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Matt Talbot 



On June 7, 1925, Matt Talbot, 
a labourer, known only to a 
small circle of friends, fell dead 
in a Dublin laneway. Within a 
year, his marvellous life story 
was known throughout the 
English-speaking world; within 
two years it had been 'told in 
French, German, Portuguese, 
Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Polish, 
Hungarian, etc. In November, 
1931, His Grace the Archbishop 
of Dublin (Most Rev. E. J. 
Byrne, D.D.) initiated the 
Cause of his Beatification, the 
first, or ordinary, process of 
which is still proceeding. 



LIFE OF 



MATT TALBOT 



SIR JOSEPH A. GLYNN. 




DUBLIN: 
CATHOLIC TRUTH SOCIETY OF IRELAND. 



LIFE OF 



MATT TALBOT 



By 

SIR JOSEPH A. GLYNN. 

.11 




DUBLIN: 

' j 

CATHOLIC TRUTH SOCIETY OF IRELAND. 



The author desires it to be 
understood that, unless where 
he expressly states that the 
Church or the Holy See has 
recognised the truth of miracles 
'or other supernatural mani- 
festations referred to. -in the 
following pages, he claims no 
credence for them* beyond what 
the available historical evid- 
ence may warrant. f \ 



First Edition, February, 1928; Second 
Impression, April, 1928; Third" Impres- 
sion, September, 1928; Second Edition, 
1930;. Third Edition, .1931; Fourth 
Edition: 1942.. 




Obstat : 
Reccaredus Fleming, - , 

Censor Theol. Deput. 

Imprimi Potest : . 

i&Ioan-nes Carolus, 
- . Archiep. Dublinen., 

Hibernice Primas. 

Dublini die 7 Nov. anno 19*2._ . 
. MAJDE IN IRELAND. 



: ^ : vl450315>: 

/: .' .. ' : ; : '' ; .c^U6- ; .. , . '' 
CONTENTS. 

, / PAGE 
'PREFACE* . . . . . , . . . iv 

INTRODUCTION TO. FIRST EDITION . . . . v 

THE CAUSE OF BEATIFICATION . . . . IX 

BIRTH AND EARLY LIFE . . -.:..:. . .1 

CONVERSION :"~. . . . . . . . 9 

GROWING IN HOLINESS . .. . . . . 18 

LABOUR TROUBLES . . . . ^ .31 

THE DAILY ROUND OF PRAYER . . . . 3^ 

THE E\TENING PRAYER 53 

FASTS AND MORTIFICATIONS . . . . . 69 

CIRCLE OF FRIENDS : HIS CHARITY . . _ . 80 

ILLNESS AND CLOSING YEARS -. . . . .92 

THE GROWING CULTUS . . . . .101 

PRAYER FOR CANONIZATION . . . . .106 
PASTORAL LETTER OF HIS GRACE MOST REV. E. J. 

BYRNE/ ARCHBISHOP OF DUBLIN . . .107 

ILLUSTRATIONS. 

NO. 18 UPPER RUTLAND STREET Facing page 16 

THE TIMBER YARD : CASTLE FORBES 

AND .MATT' s OFFICE .' . ,, ,, 175 

CHURCH OF ST. LAURENCE O'TOOLE ' . ,, ,, 48 

THE NOTE-TAKING HABIT . . . ., ,, 49 
AN ARTIST'S CONCEPTION OF MATT 

TALBOT . . * . . ,, ,,' 80 

NOTE TO DALGAN PARK . . . ,,81 

GRANBY LANE .. s . . - ,, ,,96 

THE GRAVE AT^ GLASNEVIN . . . , ,, ,,97: 



.-.-A*;, 



PREFACE TO PRESENT EDITION. 

GHE last (Fifth) edition of this Life of Matt 
Talbot was issued in 1034. In the preface, 
it was recorded that when His Eminence Jean 

- ' N ' v 

Cardinal Yerdier, Archbishop of Paris, was 'in 
Dublin two years earlier, for the 31st International 
Eucharistic Congress, he knelt and prayed in the 
room in No. 18 Upper Rutland Street, where" Matt 
Talbot had kept vigil with Jesus down many years, 
and, deeply moved by his experiences, had kissed 
the floor. . 

Wo desire to preserve that record in this edition, 
and so we note it here, for excepting in Chapter X, 
on " The Growing Cultus," which contains com- 
pletely new matter, no change has been made in 
the text, and no opportunity has offered, therefore, 
to include it elsewhere. 

A new picture facing page 80 has been included, 
by courtesy of Rev. Mother Nealis, R.S.C.J., Canada. 
Some who knew Matt Talbot well consider that 
this picture, drawn, of course, from descriptions, 
bears a striking resemblance to him. At the very 
least, it helps us to envisage the holy man. as he 
was, poor and simple, the spirituality of his 
countenance giying to those with eyes to see a hint 

"-)'< , 

of his high status among the friends of Jesus, 



IV 



Introduction to First Edition. 

I'N March, 1926, the Catholic Truth Society of Ireland 
published a short "Life of JMatt Talbot, a Dublin 
Labourer." .The Life came to be written almost by accident, 
as the name of Matt Talbot was altogether unknown to. the 
writer until a friend and fellow member, of a, charitable society 
wh.o had known Matt Talbot for 25 years, told something of the' 
life of that holy man and suggested that the author' should- 
write a short sketch for the edification of Matt Talbot' s fellow- 
workers in Dublin. The booklet was written and ready before 
Christmas, 1925, but several unforeseen events delayed its pufc 
lication until the beginning of the Lent of 1926. During Lent 
in Ireland it is customary to hold, in the cities and large 
towns, missions and retreats for the parishioners, and the little 
booklet was used by the various missioners to point out the 
spiritual height to which the lowliest amongst their hearers 
could aspire. , 

The' effect on the working people of Ireland wa.s remarkable. 
The first edition of 10,000 copies '-was sold out in four days, and 
Edition followed Edition until 120,000 copies had been sold in a 
few months. . At the time this is being written, 140,000 copies 
have been printed in Ireland. The spread of the fame of Matt 
Talbot was equally remarkable outside Ireland. The Australian 
C.T.S. republished the pamphlet under the title of " A Saint 
in Overalls." Within a s,hort time, applications for permission 
to translate it into foreign languages began to arrive, so that 
within one year from the date of the original publication" 
editions had appeared, or were in course of preparation, in 
French, German (three separate editions, for Germany proper, 
Alsatia and German-speaking Austria), Portuguese, Spanish, 
Italian, Dufych, Polish, Hungarian, Czeckish, Yugo-Slavian, Kus. 
sian, and Breton. At the same time there arose a demand for 
more information about this remarkable man, and the writer 
waa asked to prepare a larger life giving more intimate details 
of Matt Talbot's daily life. .The result is the present book, - 
which contains all that it has been possible to gather from every 
available :source about Matt Talbot from his youth to his death. 



, INTRODUCTION TO FIRST EDITION 

* ; -- ; 

Realizing the seriousness of the task which he was compelled 
by events to undertake, the writer personally interviewed a large 
number of people who. were in a position to give him any 
information on. the subject. Two" sisters gave full details of 
their brother's life, and their evidence was corroborated in very 
many essential particulars by fellow-workers and .personal 
friends. In practically every case the statement of evidence 
was written out and read over to the witnesses before bein.g 
accepted by the writer, and where, there appeared to be a 
discrepancy between statements every effort was made to clear 
it up. Such discrepancies were usually the result of faulty 
memory. As one of the sisters put it, "We always took Matt 
for granted and never minded to take notes of what v he did.. 
We never thought anyone would want to write his life." Both 
sisters were, very scrupulous in their statements and avoided 
anything which might savour of exaggeration. The writer 
found the same care exhibited by all the witnesses, who seemed 
fully to realize that nothing should be set down which was not 
in 'strict accordance with the truth. The only merit the writer 
can. claim is that, having been a lawyer for many years, he was> 
able to appraise the value of the evidence taken; by him and 
not allow his imagination to run away with his discretion. In 
all, some thirty witnesses were interviewed. It wag a wonder- 
ful experience. Here one found oneself in touch with the actual 
iriends of a saint, and saw reflected in them the holiness which 
had spread from Matt Talbot to- those around him the little 
. group which gathered on the steps of St. Francis 'Xavier's 
Church, . Upper .Gardiner Street, at 5,30 a.m., winter and sum- 
mer, waiting for the doors to open; the old lady, bent with age,v 
who still wore the chains- which Matt Talbot had given her; 
the men and women of another, rank of life who had known 
and reverenced their poor friend and model; the fellow-workers 
who had worked with him during the long years of common 
toiL How unconsciously they revealed their own beautiful 
lives as they told stories of their saintly friend, and how, as pne 
listened to them,, one realized that' these were the true types of 
our people, and not -, the wretched degenerates which a- so-' 
called, National Theatre presents to the world 'as types of 
Catholic Ireland. 

VJU-- ...' ' ' 



INTRODUCTION TO FIRST EDITION 

Those who 'mix amongst the poor of our Capital know that 
beneath the squalor, and in spite of it, there exists holiness of 
life and a wonderful charity ; holiness which reveals itself in the 
resignation with which the poor bear the manifold troubles 
which -are their daily lot; charity which, is seen in their kind- 
ness'to those amongst them who are poorer than themselves. It 
seems easy to be holy ht the cloister or in the sheltered sur- 
roundings of a comfortable home, but to see real goodness go to 
a. room in a tenement house and look around you. There is a 
perpetual lamp kept alive somehow, even where there is- no 
bread. There are the objects of piety crucifix, pictures, statues, 
and the tiny altar decked in coloured paper and tinsel. There a 
patienti wife alone with her little ones, for the husband is gone 
on the never-ending quest for work, or the lonely widow who 
earns a pittance for a, few "days ch'aring each week, will meet 
you with a smile of welcome, and will thank the good God for 
the little timely aid you have brought in His name to those,- His 
little ones. Go to our churches on the night when the men's 
sodalities meet and see the thousands of workers of every class, 
who, after their day's labour in yard, or shop, or tram, come 
week bjf week . or month by month, to gain new strength and 
help from) their devotion to the practices of their sodality. Go 
on the Sunday mornings to the early Masses, and see the 
throngs of men and women who crowd the altar tails to receive 
their Lord and Master. If you would go still higher, follow the 
footsteps of the young men and the young women of the City 
who visit the^ pool* in their own homes, the wanderers in the 
lodging houses, the homeless in the Poor Law Union, and We 
sick in the wards of the Hospital. These are our people, the 
God-fearing men and women of our City from* whom Matt Tal- 
bot sprang and who number amongst them many, who, like 
Matt-Talbot, live lives of holiness and self-sacrifice in the midst 
of their fellow-men. Why did they throng the book-shops for 
the little booklet which; told of Matt Talbot's prayers and pen- 
ances? Was it not in the depths of their own hearts they 
felt spring up the desire for holiness such as his and the 
thought that what he had done they could strive to accomplish? 
Was it not because the life of Matt Talbot proved to the world 
that sanctity is' not the preserve of the cloister, nor holiness of 
- v vii. * 



INTRODUCTION TO FIRST EDITION 

life a matter of social position, and that in our own day, as in 
the days of Christ, His friends .are to "be found amongst the 
poor and the lowly. . 

To the writer the life of Matt Talhot presents two aspects for 
all workers : rugged honesty in the fulfilling) of his contract of 
service with his employers, and a dignified confidence in the 
cause of his fellow-workers. Every page of his life reveals these 
points, as every page reveals how he regulated .all his de'alings 
with his fellow-men by the rules of Charity and Justice. 

It was. in the hope that this larger life of Matt-Talboti might 
lead to still greater devotion to his memory, and, above all, to 
the greater glory of God, that the writer undertook a task for 
which he felt himseM utterly unfitted. However, it is now. 
finished, and he humbly offers to the Christian workers -of 
every land this life of one of themselves, who, in an. * age of 
change and disillusion, never turned from the path of right- 
eousness, but ever sought his true happiness in the bosom of 
the Catholic Church, in obedience to her laws and in the^full 
knowledge that she alone could shield him from! the false gods 
of modern paganism which sought to drive the supernatural 
from the lives of the people and would close the doors of Hope 
on all who labour and are burdened. 

One more word. Just as this life was being finished the 
writer received an anonymous letter which raised two points:* 
One, the use of the name " Matt " instead of " Matthew " ; the 
other, that the original life left the impression that blasphemy 
was common amongst Irish -workers some years ago/ On the 
first point the writer considers that there is nothing irreverent 
in describing a very holy man by the name by which he was 
known all his life. Everyone spoke of him with deep affection as 
"Matt" and the writer thinks that a name which is now so 
familiar to all Irish Catholics might well be allowed to remain. 
Qn. the other point the anonymous correspondent is right. The 
use of the word "blasphemy" was not justified. Our Irish people 
seldom blaspheme; they speak at times irreverently, through, 
carelessness, and they use. the name of God or the Sacred 
Name of Jesus without adverting to what they are doing. It is 
hoped this short explanation will prevent any future mis- 
understanding. - 

yiii. 



The Cause of Beatification of 
Matt Talbot. 

By the Notary of the Process. 



The countless thousands in many countries, who 
have read with such enthusiasm the accounts of 
Matt Talbot's simple yet marvellous life story, pub- 
lished by the Catholic Truth Society of Ireland 
and translated, into several languages, will greet 
with joy the announcement that his Grace the 
Archbishop of Dublin has decided to take the first 
steps towards what, they wjll hope, will be his 
eventual Beatification and Canonization/ By so 
doing, His Grace will satisfy not merely his own 
personal love for one of his humblest subjects but 
also the ardent wishes of thousands in all condi- 
tions of life. 

s 

It will not, therefore, be out of place in this new 
.edition of his Life to give some particulars of what 
a Process of Beatification and Canonization means. 
It will not be possible to give a detailed account of 
this Process; the care which the Church takes to 
secure that the honours of the Altar are granted to 
those only whose claims to them can stand the 
severest examination makes necessary the holding 
of investigations which are both lengthy and' in- 
volved. ^The procedure to be followed is rnost 
carefully drawn up and must be strictly followed; 
any failure to do so in 'a serious matter would 



IX. 

S 



render the whole Process invalid. For this reason 
a difficult task faces those -responsible for the pro- 
motion and prosecution of the Cause. For readers 
. of this Life a more elementary exposition, avoiding 
' as far as possible the technicalities of the Canon 
Law governing such Processes, -will suffice. 

Canonization, generally speaking, is a decree of 
the x Holy See regarding the public ecclesiastical; 
veneration of an individual. This decree is of two 
kinds, preceptive and permissive. By a preceptive 
decree is meant one commanding the faithful of 
the Universal Church to venerate the "Servant of 
God as a 'Saint; it is promulgated with that sol- 
emnity of which most readers will have an idea 
and constitutes Canonization. By a permissive de- 
cree is meant one which permits, without com- 
manding, such public veneration, or 'which pre- 
scribes it but only for a particular country and not 
for the Universal Church; such is the decree,- pro- 
mulgated also with great solemnity, > which con- 
stitutes Beatification and the Servant of God so 

. 

honoured is thenceforth called Blessed. : 

It will be noticed that decrees of Canonization 
and Beatification refer primarily to w the regulation 
of public worship. But the, considerations which 
move the .Church to., issue them are of great im- 
portance and provide the= matter with which the 
various preliminary Processes are concerned. They 
involve a searching investigation into the life and 
miracles .of the person on whose behalf a claim to 
public cult is being advanced. :. 

- ' " 



The first stage of the lengthy procedure is what 
is 'known as the Ordinary pr Informative Process. 
Its name explains its authority and purpose. It is 
called Ordinary because it is undertaken by .the 
Ordinary or Bishop of the diocese acting on his 
own authority and responsibility; the authority or 
approval of the Holy See is in no way involved in . 
the constitution of this Process. It is called In- 
formative because its purpose is to -collect informa- 
tion concerning the life and miracles of the Servant 
of God. It is clear, therefore, that the initiating 
of such a Process involves no ecclesiastical approval 
whatever of any public cult of the person con- 
cerned. In fact, part of the Process consists in 
an enquiry as to whether any public cult, contrary 
to the law of the Church, has been shown to him; 
the existence of such a cult would seriously militate 
against the Cause. This remark in no way con- 
cerns private cult or devotion which is based on 
private moral certainty of the sanctity of the Ser- 
vant of God. Very many, who have read Matt 
Talbot's Life, must have formed such an opinion 
of his sanctity. They may act upon it by invoking 
his intercession and by other forms of private de- 
votion; they should, certainly, recite the beautiful 
prayer for his Beatification which has been ap- 
proved and enriched with an Indulgence by the 
Archbishop of Dublin. But there, is a danger that 
too enthusiastic admirers of him may go too far 
and; extend to him signs of veneration due only to 
those : whose cult has received the solemn approval 
of "the Church", such as the erection of publi6 altars 



in his honour, the decoration of his image With 
such insignia as are proper to Canonized Saints^ 
the inclusion of his name in public Litanies, the 
placing of lights or votive offerings on his tomb, 
sermons in which his virtues are so treated as to 
seem to anticipate the judgment of the Church 
regarding his Cause. 

For the holding of an Ordinary or informative 
Process a Court has to be set up consisting of the 
Bishop, who acts as Judge, an Assistant Judge or 
Judges, a Promoter of the Faith (he is popularly 

known as the Devil's Advocate because of the op-' 

* . 

position which he seems to offer at each step of the 
Process; in reality he acts as the best friend of the 
Process by seeing that its procedure is correctly, 
carried out in every detail), a Notary, whose duties 
are similar to those of a Secretary, and several 
other officials. Outside the Court there are two 
important officials, namely, the Postulator and 
Vice-Postulator of the Cause. The former is usually 
an ecclesiastic resident in Rome, whose duty it is, 
to attend to everything that concerns the promotion 
of the Cause when it comes before .the Holy See, ' 
whilst the latter looks after its interests at the 
Diocesan Court and produces the witnesses, who are ' 
to support the claims set forth in the "Articles" 
or statement of the virtues and miracles of the Ser- 

."/'.'. 

vant of God. As it is important that the Informa- 
tive Process should be held whilst those who knew 
the Servant of God are still living and able to give 
eyidence, it is not delayed until such 'time as, 
according to the designs of Providence', Divine con- 

xii. 



firmation of his fame for Sanctity is manifested by 
miracles. The present Process, therefore, will be 
mainly concerned with the collection of such 
evidence, but it will also deal in a general way with 
any miracles or favours attributed to the inter- 
cession of Matt Talbot. Those of the Faithful who 
have useful evidence to give on any of these points 
should communicate at once with the Vice-Postu- 
lator, who will decide as to whether their evidence 
is necessary or useful. It will be clear tfrom what 
has been said that the Informative Process alone 
will require much time and labour. Every 
witness must be examined separately and under 
oath, and his or her statement taken down in full 
by the Notary. This examination will cover not 
merely the Articles put forward by the Postulator 
but also certain secret Interrogatories, which will 
be drawn up by the Promoter of the Faith. Should 
any claim to miracles be adduced, expert medical 
testimony will have to be called to report upon it. 
All evidence must be given under an oath of secrecy^ 
so that it will be impossible for one witness to 
know what another has testified; in this way any- 
thing in the nature of collusion between witnesses, 
is made impossible. When all the witnesses have 
been examined, a carefully collated and authenti- 
cated copy of their evidence must be prepared and 
sent to the Holy See for consideration. With this, 
the business of the Informative Process closes for 
the -time being and the second stage of the long 
road "to Beatification is reached. 
The: Cause is then in the hands of the Sacred 

xiii. 



Congregation of Rites and x its further promotion 
devolves directly upon the Postulator. He. wilt be 
assisted by a Cardinal v appointed by the Pope to act 
as.'/'' Ponente 5? or patron and by an ecclesiastic 
versed in the procedure of the Sacred Congregation 
who will be 'employed .as Advocate to plead the 
Cause, before it. The evidence sent out', from the 
Diocesan Court is first translated into Latin or 
Italian and a summary of it printed and distributed 
tg the .Cardinals who form .the Congregation of 
Rites, along with the statement of the Advocate and 
the, animadversions of the Promoter-General. of the 
Faith, After, allowing due time for .consideration, 
a Congregation is held at which the Cardinals give 
their views as to the merits of the Cause. Should 
they be favourable, a. Decree is prepared and sub- 
mitted... to the Holy Father for signature; by this 
decree the Cause is formally introduced and the 
local Bishop is authorised to hold a further Process 
. in prosecution of the- enquiries which the Holy See 
4eems necessary for the particular case. . 

This brings us to the third stage, the, Apostolic^ 
Process^ It is held once more by the local ecclesi- 
'astical authority, who, however, now acts as Dele- 
gate of the .Holy See. . The procedure is practically 
similar to that of the Informative Process and the 
evidence given is once more -sent to Rome and pre- 
pare'd for an, even stricter examination than in the 
case of the Informative Process . After careful in- 
vestigation as to the validity. of all the acts of : the 
Diocesan Court, the first point debated, at Ihree- 
distinct Congregations or assemblies, is whether the- 

xiy. - . .".. : 



'. .-V. 



Servant of God practised virtues, both theological 
and cardinal, in a heroic degree. At each of these 
Congregations a majority of the Gonsultors must 
decide that the difficulties ^raised by the Promoter- 
General of ^the Faith have been satisfactorily 
answered. Should this be secured, a Decree is pre- 
pared and submitted to the Pope, who ' only after 
fervent prayer for Divine Guidance, signs it and 
thereby gives his supreme confirmation of the judg- 
ment of the Sacred Congregation. 

The question of Miracles is next considered, of 
which at least two and sometimes four of the first 
class are required. The same elaborate investiga- 
tion and consideration,. both by the Diocesan Court 
and by the Roman Congregation 1 is prescribed here 
also. When all the requirements have been satis- 
fied and a favourable judgment given by the Sacred 
Congregation of Rites, the final Decree of Beatifi-, 
catipn is prepared and submitted to the Holy 
Father, Who signs it and appoints the great day 
for the solemn ceremony of Beatification. Then, 
and not till then, is given the permission of the 
Church for public cult of the Servant of God, who 
is henceforth entitled " Blessed." 

For Canonization two further first class miracles. 

'.'*-' ' ' 

worked after Beatification, are required and must 
be proved by a Process similar to those already 
described. 

Fromr all that has been said it will be clear that 
ma-ny years must elapse from the time of inception 
of a Cause to the final acts of Beatification and 
Canonization. The ^Church moves with great cau- 



tion in such matters and the investigation of many 
( claims, some centuries old, taxes the time of the 
Congregation of 'Rites to the fullest; It is clear also 
that, whilst the starting -of the Ordinary Process by 
the Archbishop of Dublin implies a signal recogni- 
tion of the fame of Matt Talbot, it does not sanc- 
tion any public veneration of him or convey : any 
guarantee that his Cause will overcome the; many 
difficult obstacles which the prudence of ;the Church 
_ puts in the way of Beatification. The promoters of 
Matt Talbot's Cause approach the Process with 
full recognition of all this, but also with, a lively 
hope that, moved by the prayers which will assur- 
edly be offered by .'Matt's- countless devotees/ scat- 
. tered throughout the whole world, God will be 
pleased to honour the humble ^Dublin labourer by 
having him! enrolled amongst the Blessed Saints, of 
His Holy Church. 



* 



Communications regarding the Process may- be 
sent to: < : 

\ The Secretary, 

Archbishop's House, - 

Dublin. 



xyi. 




LIFE OF MATT TALBOT 

CHAPTER I. 

BIRTH AND EARLY LIFE. 

NE thing which seems certain about the an- 
cestors of Matt Talbot is that they came of a 
mixed Gaelic and Anglo-Irish stock. The 
family, names of the parents are not Gaelic, but on 
both sides there are amongst their ancestors purely 
Gaelic names which show that in this, as in so 
many families in Ireland, there is a large admix- 
ture of races. The name Talbot is Anglo-Irish; the 
maternal name, Bagnal, is .English, and as Matt 
Talbot's maternal ancestors came from County 
Cavan they were, very probably, originally English 
settlers who inter-married with the native Irish and 
adopted the Catholic religion. The family Christian 
names have the same tale to tell such names as 
Robert and Charles being infrequent amongst the 
Gaels. 

The Talbots must have been long settled in 
Dublin, as the father, grandfather and great-grand- 
father of Matt Talbot was, each in turn, foreman 
or charge-hand in the employment of the Dublin 
Port and Docks Board, a very remarkable fact in 
itself, and one which proves that they were men of 
probity and worth. This position carried with it 



LIFE OF MATT TALBOT 

1 he charge of largo quantities of bonded spirits, 
.which remained in the stores of the Board until 
they had reached maturity, when they were 
released, as required, on payment of the spirit duty. 
This post of foreman was held by Matthew 
Talbot, the great-grandfather of the subject of this 
biography, by his grandfather, Robert Talbot, and 
by his father, Charles Talbot. 

Charles Talbot was a man of exceptional char- 
acter. He lived in early life at 13 Aldborough 
Court, or Place, on the North Circular Road, 
Dublin, in a small cottage, where he married 
Elizabeth Bagnal, a Dublin-born girl. They had 
twelve children, eight sons and four daughters. 
The eldest son, John, lived to be about 60 years of 
age and died unmarried, but all the other sons, 
except Matt, died young ,or in early manhood. 
Three sisters survived Matt. Charles Talbot, their 
father, was a man of good religious life. He be- 
longed to the- Confraternity of the Immaculate Con- 
ception attached to the Jesuit Church, St. Francis 
Xavier's, Upper Gardiner Street, Dublin, being a 
regular attendant at the monthly meetings and a 
monthly communicant, besides receiving Holy 
Communion on the principal Feast Days of the 
Church. The beautiful devotion of the Rosary of 
the Blessed Virgin, which, during the centuries of 
persecution, was the mainstay of the Catholic Faith 
in Ireland, was recited every night in his home. He 
lived until the year 1899, and died at the age of 
seventy-three, having been for eleven years before 



BIRTH AND EARLY LIFE 

his death in receipt of a pension from the Port and 
Docks Board, at the rate of fifteen shillings a week, 
which was one-half of his wages before his retire- 
ment. 

Elizabeth Talbot, the wife of Charles,' was a 
woman of great piety, and in her old age had 
attained to a high degree of holiness. Like her 
husband, she was a member of" the Confraternity of 
the Immaculate Conception attached to St. Francis 
Xavier's Church, and for many years had been a 
daily communicant, a practice which she gave up 
only when she became an invalid and unable to 
leave her room. During the last few years of her 
life she received Holy Communion once a month 
from the priest in charge of the district in which 
she lived, and on whom she made so deep an 
impression that after her death he referred, in an 
address kf the Women's Confraternity, to her holy 
life. A friend who often visited the house in which 
she and her son, Matt, lived, states that he never 
saw her without the Rosary beads in her hands, 
and that she seemed always to be' praying. Both 
she and her husband were total abstainers; she, 
probably from childhood, and he from manhood. 
The unfortunate habit of indulging in strong drink 
to which their sons were addicted was not, there- 
fore, attributable to any laxity in this matter in the 
parental home. Mrs. Talbot died in 1915, at the age 
of seventy-six, having lived alone with her son, 
Matt, from the death of her husband in 1899. 

Matt* Talbot was born at 13 Aldboro' Court, or 



LIFE OF MATT TALBOT 

Place, on the 2nd of May, 1856, and was baptised 
at the Pro-Cathedral, Marlboro' Street, on the 5th 
day of May. The date. originally given by, his sister 
to the writer, 1857, was accepted without verification 
as he was informed that a search had been made, 
without success, for the baptismal entry. A further 
search led to the .discovery of the entry, which states 
that Matthew Talbot, son of Charles and Elizabeth 
T.albot (nee Mullock), was born on the 2nd May, 
1856, and was baptised according to the rite of the 
Catholic Church, on the 5th day of May, 1856. 
Sponsor, Mary Anne Talbot. This entry contains 
an error, namely, the surname of the mother, which 
is given as Mullock instead of Bagnal. This is 
easily explained, as the parochial clergy state that a 
-very common error is for the woman who carries 
the infant to the church to give her own name 
when questioned, instead of the name of the 
mother. In the present instance this must have 
occurred, as Mullock is the name of .cousins of the 
Talbots, and nothing is more probable than that a 
cousin carried the child' to the church. There 
appears to have been only one sponsor, a sister of 
the father, Charles Talbot. 

When he arrived at school age, Matt Talbot was 
sent to the Christian Schools, North Richmond 
Street, where he remained until he was twelve 
years old. His sisters state that he and his brothers 
were as mischievous as most healthy young boys 
of their age, and were in constant trouble with their 
parents. Their mother told that as she brought 



BIRTH AND EARLY L I F ti 

Matt and a younger brother to school, they would 
distract her attention at a street corner and then 
pulling their hands out of hers would escape down 
a neighbouring street, leaving her helpless. The 
beating which awaited their return after a day's 
freedom was considered, as a mater of course, 
well worth the stolen joys of a day from school. 
The school records do not contain Matt's name, but 
one venerable brother remembers the little lad 
whom he had taught over sixty years ago. Matfs 
school-days ended when he was twelve years of age. 
There was no compulsory school-leaving age in 
existence then, and boys were sent to work about 
the age of twelve. His first employment was as a 
messenger boy with the firm of Messrs. Edward 
and Joliii Burke, wine merchants, North Lotts, 
Dublin, which did, and still does, a very extensive 
bottling business for Messrs. Arthur Guinness, Son 
& Co., brewers. Here the young boy learned to 
take drink. It was around him on all sides, and, un- 
fortunately, many of the men engaged at the work 
of bottling were in the habit of drinking to excess. 
The habit began to take hold of Matt, and before 
he was a year in the store he came home under the 
influence of drink. His father gave him a severe 
beating, removed him from; Messrs. Burkes', and 
got him a post as a messenger boy in the Port and 
Docks Board, where he was himself in charge of the 
bonded stores. It was a case of " out of the frying- 
pan into the fire." In Burkes' the drink was stout, 
in the stores of the Port and Docks it was whiskey. 



LIFE OF MATT TALBOT 

The men who worked in the bonded stores gave the 
young boy whiskey to drink, and this completed the 
ruin which had begun in the first post. His father 
tried to save him by persuasion and the more drastic 
remedy of the rod, but without avail, and as the boy 
grew to manhood and could no longer be thrashed 
into obedience, his father saw him gradually 
become a drunkard on spirits actually taken from 
the stores under his own charge. Matt realised 
the disgrace he was bringing on his father, and 
when at the age of seventeen years he was old 
enough to take up a man's job, he left the Port and 
Docks Board and became a bricklayer's labourer 
with Messrs. Pemberton, the. building contractors, 
Dublin. He was an excellent workman, and during 
the day did not neglect his work, but when the 
'day's work was finished he went with some com- 
panions to the neighbouring public-house, where 
they continued to drink until closing time, .or until 
their money was exhausted. He never gave any of 
his wages to his mother, though he would occasion- 
ally offer her a shilling, and as he was supported 
by his father, he thus had the more money to 
spend on drink. Sometimes, on a Saturday, he 
deposited his week's wages, about 18s., with the 
owner of the public-house and had it all expended 
on drink before the following Tuesday. When the 
money was gone he sometimes sold his boots, and 
it- was even said that, on one occasion, he came 
home in his stockings, though, more usually, he had 
an old pair of boots to replace those sold or pawned. 



B I R 'T,H AND EARLY LIFE 

A friend, to whom Matt related the following 
incident, states that on one occasion, when Matt was 
drinking with some companions, a fiddler joined 
them. As money was running short, Matt and 
another took the fiddle and going out to a neigh- 
bouring pawn-office pawned it, and brought back 
the money they had received. Further supplies 
of drink were ordered and the fiddler, all uncon- 
scious that his fiddle had provided the wherewithal 
to purchase the drink, entered into the carouse with 
great zest, only to find when the party broke up that 
he was without the means of earning his livelihood 
and that his companions were without money. In 
after years, Matt Talbot searched the common 
lodging houses of the City, and both Poor Law 
Unions, in an endeavour to find the fiddler, so that 
he might make restitution for the price of the 
fiddle; but he never found him, and as restitution 
for his action he had Masses offered up for the 
spiritual and temporal welfare of the victim of 
their cruel, if thoughtless, act. 

He was not quarrelsome when drunk, but went 
quietly home to bed when the public-houses had 
closed for the night. No matter how much drink 
he had taken the night before, he was up in time 
for his work, which started at 6 a.m., and left the 
house clean and tidy in his person. He acquired 
the habit of taking the Holy Name in vain and of 
using strong language when talking with his fellow- 
workers, and he began to neglect the Sacraments, 
though he went to Mass on Sundays. His prayers 



LIFE OP MATT TALBOT 

consisted of blessing himself when he got out of bed 
in the morning, as he was, usually, too drunk to say 
any prayers going to bed. For two, if not three, 
years before his conversion he had not been to the 
Sacraments of Penance or the Holy Eucharist. 

The picture which Matt Talbot presents to us at 
this period is that of a young fellow going fast on 
the road to ruin; .the craving for drink gradually 
mastering him; the duties of his religion almost 
completely neglected; and the duties to his 
parents entirely ignored. The picture is dark, 
but it is not all black. All his troubles came 
from the one sin indulgence in drink. He 
had no other vice and his moral character 
was irreproachable. The writer has been at 
some pains to substantiate this statement. Matt's 
sisters state that "he was the purest of creatures." 
He had only men friends; he was never known to 
be friendly with any persons of the other sex, and 
in his home he was modest in his demeanour. 
When one considers the crowding of a; large family 
in a small house, the full meaning of this statement 
will be realised. 

It is not unusual for young men of his age to 
marry as soon as they are in a position to maintain 
a home, that is when they are in receipt of a man's 
wages. Matt's mother was anxious that he should 
marry, and, by taking on the responsibilities of 
family life, try to stay his downward course, but he 
always put her off with a laugh and the reply, 
"Mother, you are the only wife I want." 

8 




CHAPTER II. 

HIS CONVERSION. 

T the time of his conversion, Matt Talbot was 
in his twenty-seventh or twenty-eighth year. 
He was then working at Messrs. Pember tons', 
though he had worked for other builders in the 
City when work at Pembertons' was slack. 

For. a week before the day in question he had not 
gone to work. He had spent the time drinking, and 
had thus earned no wages, so that when Saturday, 
pay-day, arrived, it found him sober from necessity, 
thirsty, and without, a penny in his pocket. Still 
he was hopeful that his friends in the yard would 
come to his assistance and enable him to quench the 
terrible, thirst for spirits which consumed him. 
There was no use going to the yard in the morning 
at the usual hour, as he would not be employed for 
a half-day, which was all the men worked on Satur- 
day, so he decided to wait until the men were paid 
and were leaving the yard. He dressed with his 
usual care and left the house about midday accom- 
panied by his younger brother, Philip. They stood 
at the corner of Newcombe Avenue,- where the 
family then lived, and the North Strand, so that the 
labourers coming from Messrs. Pembertons' had to 
pa^ss them: by. As the men passed in two and threes 
they nodded to the brothers with a " Good-day, 
Matt," but none of them stopped to ask if he would 
like a drink. The reason for this was very obvious 

9 



LIFE OF MATT TALBOT 

to the brothers; their company without wages to 
spend was too expensive for their old companions. 
Matt became silent, and, as he often told afterwards, 
he was cut to the heart by the conduct of his friends. 
At last he could stand it no longer, and turning to 
Philip, he said, " I'll go home."! Philip replied that 
it was too early, as the dinner would not be ready, 
but Matt remained firm and returned alone. His 
mother was busy preparing the midday meal when 
he arrived, and, looking up with surprise, said, 
"Oh, you're home early, Matt, and you're sober!" 
He only answered, "Yes, mother, I am." Gradually 
the other members of the family arrived and dinner 
was partaken of, after which they again left the 
house for their Saturday half-holiday, leaving Matt 
alone with his mother and one or two of the younger 
children. Matt was silent for a time, and finally 
turning to his mother said, " I am going to take the 
pledge." She smiled rather incredulously, and said, 
"Go, in God's* name; but don't take it unless you 
are going to keep it.' r He answered, " I'll go in the 
name of God." He went to the room in which the 
boys slept, washed himself carefully, and, taking 
his cap, turned to leave the house. As he stood at 
the door his mother turned to him and said gently, 
" God give you strength to keep it." He made no 
reply, but went out. His objective was Holy Gross 
College, the Seminary for the Archdiocese of 
Dublin, which was only a short walk away from 
his home. This famous seminary takes its name 
from a large relic of the True Gross which is kept in 

10 



HIS CONVERSION 

the College Chapel. It was founded in 1859, and 
was then under the Presidency of Father Fitz- 
patrick, afterwards the Right Rev. Monsignor 
Fitzpatrick, Dean of Dublin, and one of the Vicars- 
General. Matt always stated that he took the total 
abstinence 'pledge from the Rev. Dr. Keane at Glon- 
liffe College. It is not easy to reconcile this 
statement with the dates. The Rev. Dr. Keane was 
a Professor in Glonliffe College until 1879, when, at 
his own request, he was transferred to a curacy in St. 
Michan's Parish. He remained in St. Michan's until 
sometime in 1883, when he joined the Dominican 
Order. Matt took the pledge in 1884, though the 
time of the year is not known. His sister, Mrs. 
Andrews, fixed that year by her own marriage, 
which was in August, 1882, and she states that she 
was about two years married when Matt's conver- 
sion took place. Dr. Keane was a constant visitor 
at Glonliffe College during the years he was a curate 
in St. Michan's, and it is possible that he met Matt 
Talbot there on the Saturday afternoon in question 
and administered the pledge. It is, of course, quite 
possible that Matt made a mistake in the identity of 
the priest who heard his confession and adminis- 
tered the pledge, though this is difficult to imagine 
because Dr. Keane was a very well-known man in 
the public life of the country during these years and 
his name must have been familiar to all Dublin 
working men. Eleven years later Matt went to Con- 
fession to Dr. Keane, then a Dominican attached to 
St. Saviour's Church, Lr. Dominick Street, and in 

11 



LIFE OFMATT TALBOT 

the course of his confession told Dr. Keane that he 
had taken the pledge from him eleven years before. 
Dr. Keane was very pleased to find a labouring man 
so ardent a total abstainer. On the present occasion, 
Matt had made up his mind to take the pledge for 
three months as he doubted his ability to keep it for 
any longer period. He had been about three years 
from confession, so he went to confession in the 
College and took the pledge when his confession was 
ended. He then returned home, and on Sunday 
morning attended the 5 a.m. Mass at St. Francis 
Xavier's Church, Upper Gardiner Street, where he 
received Holy Communion. , 

He had now to consider what steps he should 
take to enable him to keep his pledge. If he con- 
tinued his ordinary course of life it would mean 
meeting his companions at the most dangerous 
hours, namely, after the day's work had finished. 
To avoid them without giving 1 offence he could not 
remain in the neighbourhood of his home after 
working hours, and he should, therefore, go where 
they would not think of looking for him. His 
decision was_ to go to daily Mass at 5 a.m. in St. 
Francis Xavier's Church, Upper Gardiner Street, 
and after the day's work was done to visit a distant 
Church where he could pray for strength to keep 
his promise. On Monday morning he began the 
fight for his soui ? s freedom by attendance at Mass. 
He then went to his work at 6 a.m., and worked 
during the day as usual. When evening came, arid 
he had finished his evening meal at home, he walked 

12 



HIS CONVERSION 

to a distant church on the North Side of the City, 
either the Vincentian Church at Phibsboro', or the 
Parish Church at Berkeley Road, where he remained 
in prayer until it was time to return home to bed. 
The first Saturday provided a temptation. As the 
men left work it was usual to turn into the nearest 
public-house and take a drink. Matt was in their 
company and did not like to refuse to enter, but 
whereas the others drank either whiskey or porter, 
he drank a bottle of mineral water. It was his last 
visit, as afterwards he declined to enter and passed 
on home. He suffered intensely, for the craving for 
drink was strong in him and the effort to pray, 
after so many years' neglect of prayer, was very 
wearying. All the week evenings, every Saturday 
afternoon and all day on Sunday, except during 
meal-time, he spent in a church or near one. 
Coming home at night weary and dispirited, he 
would say to his mother, " It's no use, mother, I'll 
drink again when the three months are up." She 
encouraged him by gentle consolations, and to use 
the very graphic words of his sister, "During the 
three months, as the religion gripped him, he got 
fonder and fonder of the Church, and used to live 
in it after his work was done." He gave up all 
company, and, save for his mother, he had no one 
in whom to confide. His wages he handed to her 
every Saturday and then went out to the Church to 
fight but his battle before Our Lord in the Blessed 
Sacrament. Needless to say, such heroic action 
won, and when the three months expired, he re- 

13 



LIFE OF MATT TALBOT 

turned to Clonliffe College and renewed the total 
abstinence pledge for a year; and at the end of that 
further probationary period, for life. 

During the period of his first pledge his father in- 
troduced him to the Confraternity of the Immaculate 
Conception at St. Francis Xavier's Church, and 
enrolled him as a member in his own Section, a 
membership which lasted without a break for over 
forty years. ' 

One little episode of this time is not without its 
humorous side. The elder sister, Mary (Mrs. 
Andrews), had been married a few years, and 
hearing from her mother of Matt' s pledge, bought 
and gave to her mother for Matt the book known as 
" Hell Open to Christians," which contained very 
realistic, but very crude, pictures of the damned in 
torment. One would have imagined that poor 
Matt's torments at the time were sufficient without 
this added horror, but he read the little book, which 
he told his mother " frightened the life out of 
him." He kept it all through his life, and it was 
found after his death at the bottom of his box of 
books neatly rebound by himself in imitation 
leather. 

His conversion was not without many grave 
struggles. Two incidents related by himself refer 
to the early years of his change of life. In one case 
he stated that when about to enter St. Francis 
Xavier's Church, shortly after he had taken the 
total abstinence pledge, he was violently pushed 
away from the door two or three times by an unseen 

14 



HIS CONVERSION 

hand. He persisted, and believing that the action 
was diabolical, he used some vigorous language 
towards his unseen opponent and passed into the 
church. 

The second incident was a very remarkable 
example of his pertinacity in following out the 
course of life he had now, adopted. The date is un- 
certain, but it was within two or three years of his 
conversion. On one Sunday morning he attended 
the 6.30 a.m. Mass at St. Francis Xavier's Church, 
and at the end of the Mass rose in his place to 
approach the altar rails in order to receive Holy 
Communion. The moment he stood up he was 
assailed by a violent temptation to despair. He 
heard an inward voice telling him that it was useless 
for him : to try to keep from drink, that all his pious 
actions were worthless, and that he would not 
persevere. He was physically incapable of ap- 
proaching the altar, and after a time was compelled 
to leave the Church. He wandered about the streets 
unconscious of his direction, but now quite free 
from the temptation, and after a little time he 
noticed that he was outside the Pro-Cathedral, in 
Marlboro' Street. It was just 8 a.m. and he entered 
to attend 8 o'clock Mass and receive Holy Com- 
munion. Nothing occurred during Mass, but, at the 
end, when he rose to approach the altar rails, the 
temptation assailed him with all its previous 
violence. He was actually driven from the church, 
and again found himself in the streets. He began 
walking along, again quite unconscious of the direc- 

15 



LIFE OF MATT TALBOT 

tion, until he found himself at the parish church 
on Berkeley Road, just at 9 a.m. He entered, 
attended the 9 o'clock Mass and endeavoured to go 
to the rails to receive Holy Communion. It was 
useless, the temptation returned, and he could hot 
move. In great distress he left the Church and 
continued his course through the streets until, about 
9.45 a.m., he was back at St. Francis Xavier's. 
Instead of entering the church he threw himself on 
his face on the steps, with his arms outstretched in 
the form of a cross and said, " Surely, Lord ! I 
am not going to fall again into the habits I have 
left." He prayed very fervently to the Blessed 
Virgin to intercede for him, and after about ten 
minutes he felt the weight of depression suddenly 
lifted from him. He entered the church, attended 
10 o'clock Mass and received Holy Communion at 
the end without any return of the temptation. The 
struggle had lasted from about 7 o'clock, the end of 
the early Mass, until 10 o'clock, and it was never 
repeated. The man, J. R., to whom Matt had 
related this incident, was a very close friend, with 
whom he had worked for years. 

As already mentioned, one other bad habit which 
Matt had accmired was taking the Holy Name in 
vain. He found it by no means easy to correct this 
fault and invented a simple but ingenious method 
of reminding himself of his ailing. He fixed two 
pins in the sleeve of his coat in the form of a cross 
so that he could not look at his hands without seeing 

16 



LIFE OF MATT TALBOT 

tion, until he found himself at the parish church 
on Berkeley Road, just at 9 a.m. He entered, 
attended the 9 o'clock Mass and endeavoured to go 
to the rails to receive Holy Communion. It was 
useless, the temptation returned, and he could not 
move. In great distress he left the Church and 
continued his course through the streets until, about 
9.45 a.m., he was back at St. Francis Xavier's. 
Instead of entering the church he threw himself on 
his face on the steps, with his arms outstretched in 
the form of a cross and said, " Surely, Lord ! I 
am not going to fall again into the habits I have 
left." He prayed very fervently to the Blessed 
Virgin to intercede for him, and after about ten 
minutes he felt the weight of depression suddenly 
lifted from him. He entered the church, attended 
10 o'clock Mass and received Holy Communion at 
the end without any return of the temptation. The 
struggle had lasted from about 7 o'clock, the end of 
the early Mass, until 10 o'clock, and it was never 
repeated. The man, .1. R., to whom Matt had 
related this incident, was a very close friend, with 
whom he had worked for years. 

As already mentioned, one other bad habit which 
Matt had accp tired was taking the Holy Name in 
vain. He found it by no means easy to correct this 
.fault and invented a simple but ingenious method 
of reminding himself of his ailing. He fixed two 
pins in the sleeve of his coat in the form of a cross 
so that he could not look at his hands without seeing 

16 




[Fuel n j 1'iuji' 1(J 



THE TIMBER YARD. 




Castle Forbes. 




" Matt's Office." 



H r'-S ' " CONVE'RSION 

/ 

the cross and being* reminded of the Crucifixion. 
The sights of -the pins conveyed no information to 
others, as it was taken for granted that they were 
kept there for use. 



THE TIMBER YARD. 




Castle Forbes. 




' Mutt's Office.' 



11 I 'S CONVERSION 

the cross and being reminded of the Crucifixion. 
The sight of the pins conveyed no information to 
others, as it was taken for granted that they were 
kept there for use. 



17 




CHAPTER HI. 

.' .' 

GROWING IN HOLINESS. 

'HE year 1884 would appear to be the year of 
Matt Talbot's conversion. At that time his 
brothers were addicted to drink and Matt en- 
deavoured, but without success, to get them to take 
the total abstinence pledge. He saw that his parents 
were suffering from the strain of the presence in 
their little home of young men who were constantly 
coming there under the influence of drink, and 
expecting their father to feed them while they spent 
their wages in the public-house. - When Matt's 
efforts at reform failed he announced that he would 

s 

leave the house unless his brothers left, and as they 
refused to go, he took a room in Gloucester Street, 
which was not far from his old home. When living 
in Gloucester Street,' his sister, Mrs. Andrews, who 
lived near, looked after his room and cooked his 
meals. It was during his stay in Gloucester Street 
that he first used a plank bed., His sister saw two 
planks in his room and asked what they were in- 
tended for. He replied " for a purpose," and gave 
her no further information. The planks were of 
rough, unplaned timber, and were nailed together. 
A little time later, coming into the room late in the 
evening when he was absent, she went to -the bed 
to turn down the coverlet, and saw the planks under 

\. 

18 



G R W I N G IN HOLINESS 

the coverlet, so that it' was obvious that he used .to 
lie on the boards without any covering over: them. 
The bedstead and planks were the same as he had 
in his room at the time of his death. The bedstead, 
which is made of iron with strong iron laths, is six 
feet lorig and about two feet six inches wide. It 
looks small, bub Matt was a small man and it fitted 
him. 

When in Gloucester Street he fasted, -but not to 
the same extent as when he went to live in Rutland 
Street. During this earlier period he abstained 
from meat on -Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 
but at no time, nor on any day, did he eat a full 
meal. . 

He continued to attend the 5 o'clock Mass, and 
spent most of his spare time in prayed. After some 
time, his brothers having left their parents' home, 
Matt returned there, bringing with him his iron 
bedstead and planks, and continued to live with 
his parents, who then resided -in Middle Gardiner 
Street, .until the death of his father in 1899. Very 
little is known of his life during the period from 
1884 to> the time he went to work at Messrs. T. & C. 
Martin's, about the year 1892. One old lady, who 
was a lifelong friend, remembers him, because she 
was one of the few who went to Holy Communion 
at the 5 o'clock Mass in St. Francis Xavier's. This 
Mass was discontinued in 1892, and the hour of, the 
first Mass on week-days fixed at 6.15 a.m. 

It was during this .period that the incident 
occurred which decided him not to marry. His 

19 



L I F E : F M A T T a T A L B :0 T 

mother 'related the story to her daughters. .While 
.working on, a building job ': at the residence of a 
Protestant clergyman, Matt attracted the attention 
of the cook by his holiness. The cook, who was a 
pious Catholic girl, seeing that Matt did not speak 
to the maida as the other men did r decided to speak 
to, him and finally suggested marriage. She in- 
formed him that she had considerable savings and 
was in a position to furnish a home for themselves] 
Matt said he would let her know his answer after 
he had performed a novena asking for enlighten- 
ment. This he did, and -at the conclusion of the 
novena he told the girl that he had got an answer 
in prayer that he was to remain single. He was 
very firm in his resolution, as when some of his 
fellow- workmen, in later years, spoke of marriage 
to him he always said he would never marry, as it 
would interfere with the manner of life he "had 
decided to life. To a confidant he said that "the 
Blessed Virgin told him not to marry." 

During these early days he worked for several 
building contractors in Dublin besides Messrs. 
Pemberton, and in later life he often spoke of the 
men for whom he had worked when they were in 
-a modest way of business, and who, subsequently, 
became well-known builders in Dublin. One who 
knew him well in these later years says he often 
spoke of the building trade with real interest, and 
discussed matters connected, with the trade with 
great intelligence. 



G R W I N G I N HOLINESS 

The change of the hour of the first Mass in St. 
Francis Xavier's brought about a complete change 
in. Matt Talbot's life. The. hours of a bricklayer's 
labourer,, which was his trade, were from 6 a.m., 
so that if he continued at lhat trade he should give 
up daily Mass and daily Communion. He, there- 
fore, looked for employment- where the hours were 
later, and found what he required in the firm of 
Messrs. T. & C. Martin,. Ltd., North Wall, Dublin, 
where he was first a casual and afterwards a per- 
manent labourer. This took place about the year 
1892, and his employment with the firm lasted to 
the date of his death. . . 

As this well-known Irish firm bulks so largely in 
the life of Matt Talbot a short account of it will 
not be out of place. The founder was John Martin, 
who, in 'the closing year of the eighteenth century, 
opened a timber yard on the river Liffey, at the 
North Wall.- In those days the timber business was 
carried on , by, means of auctions, and the timber 
came, principally, from the Baltic. Tlie firm had 
many vicissitudes during the Napoleonic Wars, 
owing to the interruption of trade, but on the 
declaration of peace, trade was resumed with all its 
former "activity. The firm still possesses one of the 
old auction advertisements, dated 27th May, 1817, 
which" sets out the quantities of timber to -be sold. 
Shortly after this date the firm became John Martin 
"& Son,'h>y the addition of James Martin, the son of 
the founder, and the business was changed to a 
different site, which is now part of the present 

21 ' 



LIFE OF MA TTTALBOT 

extensive premises. In 1861 three of James^ Martin's 
sons started the saw mills a't the North Wall, 
adjoining the storage yards of John Martin & Son. 
The two firms were independent of each other 
until 1883, when they were amalgamated under the 
name of Messrs. T. & C. Martin,, which, in 1886, 
was formed into a private limited liability company. 
The business of the firm was largely extended 
during the period 1861 to the present, and, besides 
being a very large importer of timber, it deals in all 
classes . of building material; manufactures furni- 
ture, and has creosote works. ' 

The day in Martin's began^at 8 a.m., the, men 
coming to work after breakfast, and ended at 6 p.m., 
there being, thus, only one break in the day, namely, 
the dinner hour from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. The timber' 
yards and offices during Matt Talbot's time were 
in two divisions. One section extended to the 
river front and was intersected by roads. This 
section contained a large drying shed, in which the 
timber for the joinery and furniture works was 
stored, and in which Matt Talbot was storekeeper 
for many years. Another section was known as 
Castle Forbes, from a mansion formerly erected -on 

the site by the Forbes' family, the ancestors of the 

% 

Earls of Granard. This section consisted' of one 
large yard with a gate and gate-lodge, and with 
sheds around the walls, in, which timber was stored. 
Matt Talbot was transferred to this yard as store-' 
keeper about eight years before his death. In the 
corner of this yard, under a shed, was a v small office 

22 



G R W I N G I N HOLINESS 

made of timber, with a telephone which was put up 
during the Great ;War; when the .timber and all 
other similar trades were controlled by the military 
authorities. The office, after the war, was taken 
possession of by Matt Talbot, and was known, as 
" Matt's Office." In the drying shed in the first- 
mentioned section of the Quays there was no office, 
but there was -a space some six or seven feet high 
between the ground and the timber, which was 
stored in one portion of the shed, and under which 
Matt Talbot used, when alone, to retire to pray. 
In the centre of the shed, quantities of the butter 
quality timber stood on end drying, and were used 
for the furniture making. Practically adjoining 
Messrs. Martin's yards is the parish church 'of St. 
Laurence O'Toole, which Matt Talbot visited going 
to and coming from his work. 

In the early days of his work in Martin's, Matt 
Talbot worked as labourer and had to unload ships, 
load :'carts, and do the ordinary work usual to his 
class. He disliked the work of unloading the ships 
because of the profane language which, in those 
days, was not uncommon amongst quay labourers. 
He. never heard the Sacred Name of Jesus pro^ 
nounced without raising his hat, and this was 
observed by some of the more irresponsible work- 
men, who, in a spirit of mischief and not from any 
real malice, used irreverent language in order to 
annoy Matt Talbot still more. He never openly 
rebuked the. men except when something very ex- 
ceptional, occurred. He would then say, "Jesus 

23 



LIFE OP M^A T T T A L B T 

Ghrist is listening to you," When the Angelus bell 
rang at noon, he ceased work, removed his hat and 
said tlie Angelus, .simply and unostentatiously. 
When he was better known in the-yards his example 
was so good that no bad language was heard in- his 
vicinity. If he saw a young man, whom he knew to 
be leading a decent life, laugh at some, coarse story 
or joke, Matt would call-him aside when no qne else 
was present, and would quietly -rebuke him for 
having laughed at what was said. "You cannot 
avoid listening," he said, "but you need riot laugh 
at a dirty story." He would often, in such cases, 
follow up his chat with the loan of a book which he 1 
made his young protege read. During all this time 
he was not morose nor a " spoiLsport." He enjoyed 
a good story, provided it was clean, and laughed 
heartily at a joke. A carter (D.R.) , who worked in 
the early, years, with ..Matt Talbot, states that Matt' s 
work at .this, time consisted in filling the lorry .with ; 
timber which .was being removed from one yard to 
another. While the lorry was^ going back and 
forward (about .15. minutes) Matt was usually idle, 
and this spare time he spent in prayer behind the 
piles of timber. D. R. relates some interesting 
incidents of this period, one of which he was told 
by Talbot and one of which he witnessed. Matt 
Talbot told him that he used to smoke for some time 
after he had given up drink. One day, after he had 
bought a new pipe and an ounce of tobacco, he was 
going along the road with his purchases in his 
pocket, when he* met a fellow- worker, who, being 

' 24 ' ' ' ' ''-'... 



GROWING IN; HO LINES S 

without tobacco ? asked -Matt for "a fill." Matt took 
ottithenew.'pipe, and the ounce .of tobacco, gave both 
to his 7riend, and never smoked again ._ The second 
incident had to do .with the -use of bad language by 
a fellow- worker. The wife of the latter came 
during the dinner hour with her husband's dinner. 
An altercation took place between them, and the 
husband used very vile language towards his wife. 
When he had finished his meal, Matt Talbot. went 
up to where the man and his wife sat, and produc- 
ing from his pocket a large crucifix which was 
attached to his Rosary beads, he held it before the 
face of his fellow- worker and said, "Do you see 
Who you are crucifying?' ' No more was said ; Tal- 
bot moved away and the man addressed hung his 
head and made no reply. 

D.R. also relates that Matt always got away from 
the yard a few minutes before 6 p.m. and ran to the 
Church so that he might be there when the Angelus 
bell rang. -This was before he became storekeeper, 
as in later years* he had to close the yards when the 
men left. 

As already stated, he did not like to work on the 
quays, and after he had become a regular worker 
in the firm he asked his foreman not to send him 
to work there. "You .know my little failing," was 
the reason Jie gave, meaning by " failing " his 
impatience at hearing bad language. He also asked 
the foreman. not to send him. to work at the guano 
or creosote yard, because he did .not wish to have 
his clothes smell of tar. .He explained that he went 

25 



LIP E O F M A T T T A L B O T 

to Mass and Holy Communion every mdrfting, and 
that " he did not like to go to Holy Communion 
with his clothes smelling of guano." 

At the creosote yard, where railway sleepers were 
made and soaked in tar, the sleepers when prepared 
were put into a press for a time. If this occurred 
just before the 10 a.m. Mass in St. '.Laurence 
O'Toole's Church, Matt ran to the church, heard 
Mass, and was back before the sleepers were ready 
for removal. Some of the men who resented 
Matt's disapproval of their conversation, reported 
to the manager that Talbot left the yard during 
working hours. The manager sent for Matt and 
asked him about the matter, but when he heard the 
explanation and realized that n6 time was really 
lost, he 'at once gave permission to Matt to go to 
Mass in similar circumstances. 

'After he had been some - years working as a 
labourer he was appointed storeman, when his duty 
was to select timber required for special orders or 
for the joinery business. These he loaded on to a 
hardcart and if there was no one else available he 
wheeled the handcart to the workshop. The post 
was a responsible one, as it required strict honesty 
owing to the many opportunities for petty thefts of 
timber! It was never known during the years Matt 
Talbot had charge of the stores that he allowed even 
waste to.be removed by any unauthorised .person. 
On one occasion, when he required a small portion 
of wood for his own use, he purchased some and 

\ 26 ' 



G R WIN G I N HO L I N E S S 

got a formal receipt, lest anyone should think he 
had taken- it without permission. .'-'-'- : . : 
Although his principal work at this later period 
was in the timber, shed, the foreman, when there 
was a rush of work on the quayside, sent Talbot to 
help. It was on some, of these special occasions 
that the men were paid two shillings extra for their 
work. This incident was not correctly stated in the 
original little life, as it was there stated to be for 
overtimed The actual fact was more in keeping 
with Matt Talbot' s character than refusing payment 
for overtime would have been. The correct story 
is: When a cargo , of timber had to be unloaded 
within a limited time, and during the ordinary 
working hours of the day, so that the ship might 
catch the outgoing tide, the men were promised a 
bonus of two shillings each, provided they had the 
ship unloaded in time. ' If they failed they got 
nothing for the extra labour. It meant working 
at very high pressure for some hours, and was 
exhausting work. " On the first occasion on which 
Matt Talbot was sent to this work he did not call 
at the office for the two shillings bonus, and on 
being questioned by the foreman the next day as 
to his non-appearance, he replied that he scrupled 
taking the money for the extra labour as there were 
many hours of the week when, he was idle waiting 
for lorries to arrive, and that he thought the idle 
hours should be set against the extra work. The 
foreman replied that he could not upset his accounts 
for Talbot's scruples and paid him the two shil- 



L; I F E O F M AT T T A L B T 

lings. Afterwards the. foreman had to. bring the 
money to Matt, who accepted it as a gift,: but de^ 
clined to claim it as a right. . : 

All the foremen under whom Matt Talbot worked 
agree that they never knew him to be late in arriv- 
ing at the yards. On one or two occasions he was 
missed from the gang which had to. unload a lorry, 
and when called was seen coming from under the 
timber in the shed where he was known to retire to 
pray. He was asked why he was late and said he 
had not heard the lorry entering the yard. To this 
place under the timber he would retire after he had 
heard grossly irreverent language from any of the 
men, 'and, there. he would recite the Divine Praises. 
Sometimes he spoke to the men about the lives of 
the saints, and told them interesting stories he had 
read the evening before. He did not deliberately 
start a discussion on religious matters with the men, 
but should the conversation turn on such subjects 
he spoke openly and frankly about them. He was 
very friendly towards any men he saw leading pious 
lives; he encouraged them and lent them books. 
If they were married and required help owing to 
illness of themselves or of members of their families, 
he would give or lend them money. If 'the cause 
of the trouble was drink he would endeavour to 
reclaim the erring one, but he was never known to 
lend money to anyone who required.it simply to. 
purchase drink. : : . ' 

His denieanouT towards his foreman and towards 
the heads of the firm was respectful but frank. He 

-. - 28- ' "' : '.-.' 



L I F E OF MATT T A L B O T 

never tfieej to curry favour with anyone, and if he 
were in the right he spoke perfectly bluntly to all, 
high or;low. He never lost his self-control, though 
he -could speak vehemently on the point at issue. 
On one occasion the foreman thought that the men 
were not working hard enough and spoke severely 
to them, Matt Talbot being amongst the men and 
listening quietly. At the end of the talk one of the 
men Kfted a scaffolding pole to carry it away, and, 
turning rather suddenly, struck Matt a severe blow 
on the head. The latter was hurt but did not make 
any comment, and proceeded to his worK as usual. 
On another occasion he had a rather heated dis- 



cussion with the same foreman in connection with 
subscriptions to charities and stated that the fore- 
man, who had a good salary, could subscribe much 
more easily than he, Talbot, could. The foreman 
thought that Matt had exce'ede'd the bounds .of 
respect and told him so. Matt left without saying 
more, but. returned a day or so later and apologised, 
saying that " Our Lord had tbld him that h& should 
beg pardon for what he had said," and that he had 
come to do so. 

On one occasion all the men in the yard got an 
increase in their wages except Talbot and another. 
They thought they should have got the increase as 
well as the others, .and,. on pay-day, Matt presented 
himself to the managing director and asked for the 
increase. He was refused and left the office without 
any comment; nor did he allude to the incident 
afterwards. When in charge of the drying shed, a 

* ' 

29 



\ ' . .'' 

L I F E OP MA T T T A L BO T 

workman, on one Saturday morning, came in just 
when the yards were about -to close and hid him- 
self in the timber to avoid meeting the" managing 
director, who was Booking for him because -he had 
gone away the previous Saturday without leave. 
Seeing Talbot, the managing director asked him 
had he seen X. Talbot, instead of replying, said, 
"I wish you would not ask me these questions. 
You know^I do not want to answer them. "^ As the 
managing director knew he would neither tell a lie 
nor give the workman away, he contented himself 
with saying, " Well, if you see X, tell him I want 
him." He then le,ft the shed and Matt, calling to 
the delinquent, asked, " Did you hear that?" "I 
did," was the reply. "Well," said Matt, " attend 
to it, as I will not tell lies to save you:" This in- 
cident was typical of the man. He hated untruths, 
and his bluntness came from the love of truth and 
his horror of prevarication. He told a friend that a 
curate in Berkeley Road parish church-, Rev. J. O'C., 
had taught him to love truth and hate lites. 



30 



CHAPTER IV. ''. 

LABOUR TROUBLES. : : 

IT is not the intention of the writer to enter into 
a long discussion of the various Labour troubles 
which disturbed Ireland from 1911 to 1914, 
particularly during- the great strike of 1913. It is 
necessary, however, to say something about these 
matters in order to understand the position taken 
up by Matt Talbot in reference to them. 

Prior to f908, Irish workers were, for the most 
part, members of trades' unions which had their 
headquarters in Great Britain. They formed only a 
small percentage of the union membership, and their 
interests were altogether subordinated to the larger 
interests .in England. Unskilled labour in Ireland 
was unorganised and the conditions of employment 
were, on the whole, bad. The housing conditions 
in Dublin were a disgrace to a Christian city, and 
the tenement houses with thousands of families each 
living in one room were, and to a great extent are 
still, the common form of home for the unskilled 
worker. Wages were low, and, for married men 
with families, insufficient to provide the 1 ordinary 
necessaries of life. Low as- were the wages of the 
labourers, 4,hey were still further depleted by the 
system then prevalent oh the quays, of 'paying 
dockers in public-houses. About the year 1908, all 
unskilled and casual labourers .in Dublin, and 
indeed in Ireland generally, were being organised 

31 



LIFE F^ MATT T A L B T 

into one union, known as the Irish Transport and 
General Workers' Union. An immediate effort was 
made to improve the condition of the workers, and 
strikes became common. ' A new and disturbing 
feature of these strikes was the introduction of what 
is known as " the sympathetic strike," where men 
who had no quarrel in regard to their 6wn_ con- 
ditions of employment, were, with a view to forcing 
a settlement, called out in sympathy with their 
fellows who were on strike. By 1911 the crisis was 
approaching, as the success of the smaller strikes 
had encouraged workers to join the new union, 
and thus from attacks on small firms, the struggle 
spread to the larger industrial concerns. The in- 
dustrial war was not confined to Ireland, as Great 
Britain was involved, in the prevailing unrest, and. 
,on t a scale which dwarfed the Irish troubles in 
comparison. 

The importance of the struggle was recognised by 
the Catholic Church in Ireland, so much so, that 
at the meeting of the Maynooth Union, in July, .1912, 
a very far-seeing paper was read by the Rev. M. J. 
L 0'Donnell, D.D., on "Strikes." It was a clear, 
impartial statement of the law of God and of His 
Church, and was filled' with a deep sympathy for 
the worker in his efforts to improve his position. 
The paper -met -with the unanimous approval of the 
clergy 'assembled at Maynooth, arid it called forth 
the warm thanks of some of the leaders of the 
Labour movement in the City of Dublin. 

The issue, however, was knit. One employer 

32 .-.'" v V" :. 



LABOUR TROUBLES 

of labour, the chairman of the Dublin Tramway v 
Company, the late William M. Murphy, declared 
war on the Irish Transport and General Workers' 
Union, and, in August, 1913, the company, which 
was about to start new works., gave notice that no 
one would be employed who was a member of the 
Irish Transport and General Workers' Union. The 
employers now formed a union in defence of them- 
selves, and both sides fought with all the energy 
of Irishmen. The employers refused to employ 
members of the Irish Transport and General 
Workers' Union. This declaration was followed by 
a " lock out " by many employers, with the result, 
that the unemployed in the City mounted rapidly, 
first to 15,000, and eventually to 30,000, persons. 
The Press was hostile to the men, and eventually 
public bodies passed resolutions asking .for a con 1 
ference ; This was called but broke down almost 
at -once. The employers now dropped the words 
" lock out "and a form of undertaking was pre- 
pared and submitted to the employees whereby they 
were to undertake to carry out all orders- given by or 
on 'behalf of the employers; , to handle, and deliver 
all goods from, any source whatever; and to work 
amicably with all other hands. This brought the 
trouble into the building trade of which Matt Talbot 
was a member, as some 300 men employed by the 
timber , merchants refused .to sign the proposed 
undertaking and were accordingly locked out. 

Riots were common in the City, and prosecution 
of the Labour leaders followed. .As is inevitable 

~~ t 

33 



LIFE F MATT T A L B O T 

t ' 

An times of such struggles, excesses were committed 

and weapons used which alienated sympathy from 
the workers in many cases. This was notably the 
case when it was proposed to send the children of 
the unemployed to England to be supported by the 
workers there. This proposal was as short-sighted 
as it was fatuous and raised a storm of protest 
amongst the workers themselves, with- the result 
that it was not carried out. 

Efforts at conciliation were made, and an official 
enquiry was opened, but broke down 'on the im- 
portant question of re-instatement of all workers. 
.The winter of 1913-1914 saw the struggle intensified 
and the miseries of the workers increased. The 
end came when the English Union withdrew their 
financial support from the Irish workers, so that 
with no alternative to starvation except submission, 
the men returned to work on the employers- terms. 
Any men who had been publicly identified with the 
quarrel were refused reinstatement, amongst those 
being a brother of Matt Talbot, who had been 
particularly active in the fight. 

The outbreak of the Great War changed the face 
of the world, and it also changed the conditions of 
labour in Dublin, but the old bitterness took many 
a year to die down, and the^strike of 1913 is still, 
when it is referred to, a sore subject with employers 
and workmen. If one may venture an opinion 
after the years that have passed, it is contained in 
two' pronouncements' of the protagonists of, the 
employers, when the fight was. over' and the men 

34 



L A B O U R TROUBLES 

* . 

were beaten the. Irish Times, in February, 1914, 
declared in an editorial that " Larkinishr was . a 
revolt against intolerable conditions," and Mr. 
William M. Murphy, at a Conference of Dublin 
employers, said that "their sweating wages and 
bad conditions had produced Larkinism." These 
two statements seem to the writer to describe the 
industrial conditions in Dublin prior to 1908. 

In the meantime we have apparently parted 
company with Matt Talbot. How did ,all these 
strikes affect him? In fact he went through it all 
quite serenely. He took the view that he was not 
competent to judge the matter in dispute, and, 
therefore, left the decision to the men as a whole. 
He did not attend any meetings, but when the men 
left work or were locked out, he left with the others. 
He refused to march in 'procession or to picket the 
works, and on that account did not ask for strike 
pay.- Some of his fellow-workers state that when 
the question of the weekly allowance which was to 
be made to the men who were oui was under con- 
sideration, Matt's name was mentioned and it was 
unanimously agreed tha't he should share with the 
others although he had refused to picket. They 
recognised that Matt was on a different plane, and 
that argument or force was useless where he was 
concerned. Accordingly, every week he was paifi 
the same as the others. One of his work mates 
spoke to Matt during the strike and asked him what 
he thought were " the rights of it"? Matt replied 
that the strike had troubled him also, and that he 

35 



L IF E F MATT; T A L B T 

had spoken to one of the Jesuit Fathers in St. 
Francis" Xavief's Church on the question; that 
Father had lent him a book on the subject, and 
having read there that no one had a right to starve 
the poor into submission, it was ' enough for him 
and had settled his conscience. This answer shows 
that he considered 'the cause of the unemployment 
as a " lock out," and not a strike in the ordinary 
sense of the word. 

There is no question about his sympathy with 
his fellow- workers, as he often stated that in his 
opinion the labourers, especially married men, were 
not sufficiently paid, and he expressed his sympathy 
with men who had children in their efforts to rear a 
family in decency on the scanty wages paid in those 
pre-war days. Frank and outspoken as he always 
was, he spoke with warmth on these matters, and 
was ever ready to assist from his own poor wages 
those who were poorer than himself. . : 

Although it has nothing to say to the Labour 
question, a slight reference to Matt Talbot's attitude 
towards politics will he,lp to complete the picture 
of this period. Parallel with the Labour war, 
1908-1914, ran the political fight which centred 
round the Home Rule struggle and the preparations 
for armed resistance in the North of Ireland. In 
one respect they were intermixed, as the advanced 
wing of the Labour Party in Ireland formed what 
was called the "Citizen Army," which took an 
active part in the rising in April,, 1916. In view of 
questions asked on this matter, the writer made 

36 



L ''-A B O U R T R U B L E S 

inquiries from Matt Talbot's most intimate friends, 
including two sisters, a brother-in-law, and -fellow- 
workers, all of whom agreed that Matt Talbot took 
no interest whatever -in. polities; that he was never 

, . . .\. .. . -. .,_.'- . -'..-.. --...,- - A . _...-./. . . ... i .-"-,- - . 

known to vote at an election; and never discussed 
political events. During the Rising in April, 1916, 
popularly known as " Easter Week," he never 
missed attendance at morning Mass, and when 
others feared to pass the military cordons he went 
through them undaunted, day after day, until 
normal conditions were restored. Meeting a friend 
soon after, the latter questioned him on the subject 
of the Rising. Matt's reply was both shrewd and 
far-seeing. Referring to the executions of the 
leaders and the arrests and deportations which 
followed the failure of the insurrection, he said, 
" Our boys will all go into secret societies now." 
During the Anglo-Irish War of 1919-1921 he never 
was drawn into discussions on the subject. If 
anyone asked him had he .heard of such and such a 
matter, he replied that he had not, as he did not 
read newspapers nor look at the placards. On one 
morning the North Wall Hotel, then a British mili- 
tary centre, and which adjoins Messrs. Martin's 
yards, was blown up. The military immediately 
searched every place in the vicinity. It was just 
before the opening hour at Martin's 8 a.m. and 
Matt T^albot, who was then working at the Castle 
Forbes' yard, had arrived to open the yard. He 
was arrested in his little office, brought, with his 
hands up, .across the yard to the entrance gate, 

37 



L IP EOF MAT T T ALB T 

placed against the wall and searched. He was 
then released. Later on, when he met Mrs-:- M., 
who lived in the gate-lodge, he did not make any 
reference to his morning adventure, and when she 
tried to discuss the matter with him he turned the 
conversation. v 

During the later troubles, when, alas, our own 
people fought one another, he was equally reticent, 
and carefully avoided expressing any opinion on 
the merits of the dispute which occasioned the 
fighting. His friends were most emphatic in their 
denial of his having ever done more than express 
his sorrow at seeing Irishmen fighting amongst 
themselves. 

To sum up his .views on these two questions of 
Labour and Politics. In Labour matters he stood 
by his fellows when their action was in accordance 
with the laws and teaching of the Catholic Church, 
which for him was the voice of God. In politics 
of any description he took no : part or interest. 



38 



CHAPTER V. 

: THE DAILY ROUND OF PRAYER. 

IN. the last Chapter it was necessary to anticipate 
a little in order to give a connected account of 
Matt' Talbot's relations to his employers and his 
fellow- workers. It will now be necessary to retrace 
our steps in order to consider the day from the 
spiritual aspect. 

Reference has already been made to his 'plank 
bed, his fasting, his attendance at Mass. Even at 
the risk of repetition, it will be necessary to re- 
construct his daily life, so that a clear picture of the 
extraordinary nature of his devotions may be given. 

Prom the death of his father in the year 1899 
onw,ards, Matt Talbot lived with his mother in 18 
Upper Rutland Street. 

Matt retired to his plank bed about 10.30 o'clock 
and always slept with a statue of the Virgin and 
Child in .his right hand, which he crossed over his 
breast, so that the statue rested against his heart. 
He found that the ordinary form of statue, in which 
the image of the Divine Infant was held on 'the 
right arm of the Blessed Virgin, prevented him 
from sleeping, because the image of the Divine Child 
hurt his side. Accordingly he got his sister , x Mrs. 
Fylan, to search the shops until she found one with " 
the image of the Divine Infant on the left arm of 

39 



LIFE OF MATT T ALB OT 

Our L^dy, and this form he always used, his head 
resting on the wooden pillow, and the statue firmly 
clasped in his liand, resting- by his left side. ': He 
did not remove the chains which he wore, an 
account of which will be found later on, and he 
slept on the bare boards, covered with half : a 
blanket, which was his only covering except on 
very cold nights, when he allowed his sister io add 
an old sack. A small alarm clock awoke him at 
2 a.m., when he rose to pray. A perpetual lamp 
showed a dim light through the room, so that his 
mother, at the other end of the room, could see 
what passed during the hours of prayer. 

On the first occasion that his mother slept in their 
new; home she was awakened sometime after 2 a.m. 
and saw Matt in his room kneeling up oh his bed. 
She thought his face looked very strange, and asked, 
"Is anything the matter, Matt? " He did not 
reply, and after a little time she fell asleep again. 
During the ensuing years she often watched him 
without his knowledge, and had no doubt in her 
mind that he was in a state of ecstacy. He knelt 
erect, either on the bed or on the floor, in his night- 
shirt, and prayed with his hands outstretched. 
Sometimes he fell or threw himself forward on his 
face on the floor, and remained in that position 
with arms still outstretched, praying in an audible 
voice. Sh.e heard him address the Blessed Virgin 
and speak to her for a considerable time; not as in 
ordinary prayer, but holding a regular conversation 
as if he was actually speaking to Our Lady face to 

40 



THE DAILY $OUND OF PRAYER 

face. His mother was fully convinced of this and 
said to her daughter afterwards, " There is nothing 
surer than that Matt used to see the Blessed Virgin." 
Matt never told her so, But she formed this opinion 
from the conversations with Our Lady which she 
overheard at night. He always seemed, on such 
occasions, to be looking at the Blessed Virgin. 
Though he never discussed these night vigils with 
his mother, he often said to her, " No one knows 
the good Queen that is to me"; when saying this 
he held the little statue in his hand and referred to 
it. If his prayers were finished before 4 a.m., he 
lay down on the planks to rest until the hour struck, 
when he rose, dressed himself, and resumed his 
prayers until it was time to leave -for Mass, some- 
time before 5 a.m. 

In later years, he usually went to Mass to St. 
Francis Xavier's Church, at 6.15 a.m., but in his 
younger days he often went to St. Teresa's Church 
(O.D.G.), Clarendon Street. On one occasion when 
he arrived at the little laneway leading from Graf ton 
Street to St. Teresa's, some time before the house 
door was open, he heard the^step of one of the night 
policemen coming along the laneway. He stood 
back into a doorway to avoid being seen> but this 
only, attracted the attention of the policeman, who 
stopped and questioned him closely as to his reasons 
for being there at such an unreasonable hour. As 
there were side entrances to business premises in 
the little passage, the policeman suspected Matt of 
loitering ,with intent to commit a burglary. The 

. :'. '' V '" ' 41 



L I F E F MA T. T T, A L B T 

- * 

latter explained that he had come to Mass, but the 
policeman was sceptical and said the church would 
not be open until 6 a.m. and that it was now only 
5 o'clock. Matt said that the sacristan would soon 
open the presbytery door and that he would be 
admitted. While this conversation was going on, 
another policeman, hearing the voices, came in from 
Graf ton Street and .seeing Matt, whom he already 
knew from having seen him waiting at the church 
door, called away his colleague and told him not to 
trouble more about his suspect. The door was 
opened almost immediately and Matt took refuge in 
the church. He found the walk from his home to 
Clarendon Street, which was quite a , considerable 
distance, took up too much time to enable him to 
return home, have breakfast, and be at his work by 
8 a.m., so he went to St. Francis Xavier's instead. 
Thi's church opened at 5.30 a.m. and Matt usually 
arrived at the entrance about 5 a.m., if not earlier. 
He knelt in prayer on the steps of the convent ad- 
joining, or at the iron railings of the church, waiting, 
for it to be opened. Even if the morning were wet 
he did not take shelter in the doorway, although 
sometimes asked to do so. On some occasions, 
either before the opening of the church, or after 
Mlass, he would chat with a friend for a few 
minutes. To one such friend who knew h.im very 
well, and who acted as his almoner on more than 
one occasion, he confided that he had asked for the 
gift of prayer and that he had got it in abundance. 
Whenever he knelt ^down tie knelt on his bare 

42 



THE DAILY ROUND OP PRAYER 

knees.. . To do this without attracting attention he 
resorted to an ingenious device: he cut the knees of 
his trousers .lengthways, so that when standing up 
or walking ,the- opening did not show, but when he 
knelt. down he was able to pull the trousers aside 
and leave the knees bare. ' To hide .this from the 
public he pulled his overcoat, which he invariably 
wore in the church, around his legs. The sharp eyes 
of the lay-brother who had charge of the church, 
however, discovered the secret which was so care- 
fully concealed from all others. 

On the church door being opened he knelt at the 
door and kissed the ground. He then went to the 
altar rail, and, having prayed for some little time, 
he performed the Stations of the Cross. In con- 
nection with this devotion a iriend once said to him 
that .he had seen a priest in the Passionist Church 
at Mount Argus going round the stations entirely on 
his knees without standing up to walk from station 
to station. Matt replied that he* would like to 
perform the stations in a similar manner were it not 
that his doing so would attract attention. Having, 
finished the stations, he knelt at the extreme right 
hand end of the rail in front of the high altar, 
where he received Holy Communion during Mass. 
He then returned to the rail which runs across the 
church, dividing the nave from the upper portion of 
the church and the transepts, and remained there 
until the end of Mass. After his illness he. changed 
his place to the centre of the third bench opposite 
St. Joseph's altar. During Mass he never used a 

43 



b 1 F E F M ATT T A L EOT 

prayer book, but prayed with his eyes shut. .He 
knelt erect in the bench, with his hands clasped in 
front of him, nor did he allow them to rest on the 
rail in. front of him. He was, therefore, without any 
support whatever and remained in this position for 
the entire period he was in the church. This! lasted 
on Sundays until about 1.30 p.m. He did not stand 
up for the Gospels. This has been commented on 
as not in. accordance with the usual procedure. He 
explained it by saying that he had read in the life 
of a saint that this saint had never stood up, so that 
he might avoid distractions. Matt had, therefore, a 
sound authority to .guide him in the matter. He 
was most careful not to attract attention to himself, 
and the brother who knew him best at St; Francis 
Xavier's, states that except for his extraordinary 
spirit of recollection there was nothing to attract 
attention to him in church. .One of the Jesuit 
Fathers who had given Matt Holy Communion re- 
marked to some' of the other Jesuits that there was 
a saint attending their church, so struck was he by 
.the wonderful fervour with which he had received 
the Sacred Host. He did not know who the man 
was, but after the publication of the first life he 
learned .that 'it was Matt Talbot, and identified him 
by the place he occupied at the altar rails. After 
Mass Matt made no delay but left, the church, 
walking :. quickty ou ^ an( * n0 ^ looking to the right 
or the left. The only pause he made was to fondle 
a beautiful collie dog which lay in the outer porch 
waiting for its mistress, who was in the church. 

.. ' -'4S- .-..'. ; ' 



THE DAILY ROUND OF PRAYER 

This lady who, through the dog, made Matt's ac- 
quaintance, has later on some interesting facts to 
relate of the friendship thus begun. 

On his return to his room he had breakfast, which 
consisted of cocoa prepared the evening before by 
his sister, and reheated by himself, and some dry 
bread. Sometimes if he were pressed for time he 
drank the cocoa cold, and then walked rapidly to 
Messrs. T. &.C. Martin's, halting on the way to pay 
a short visit to the Church of St. Laurence O'Toole, 
Seville Place, " to see Our Lord on the way down," 
as he told one of his foremen. 

From about the year 1918 he was storeman in 
the Castle Forbes' yard. He arrived at the yard 
about 7.45 a.m., in order to open the main gate for 
the men anc^ lorries at 8 a.m.. On arrival he removed 
his coat and hat, which he hung up in the little 
office in the timber shed, which has been referred 
to already, and put on ah old coat and hat. From 
that hour until 12.30 p.m. he did his ordinary work- 
in the yard, receiving orders, selecting timber and 
sending out lorries. His dinner hour was 12.30 
p.m., as he had to remain in the yard while the men 
were at dinner, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Mrs. M., 
who lived in the gate-lodge at Castle Forbes, states 
that she only knew Matt Talbot to see him in the 
yard until she began to prepare his midday meal. 
One day, "in the year 1920, at 12-.30 p.m., he knocked 
at the back door of the gate-lodge, anel when Mrs. 
M. came to the door he handed her a % workman's 
can, arid asked her to boil the kettle and put some 

45 



LIFE OP. M A T T T A L B T 

boiling water in the can to make his "cocoa." She 
said "Yes," and he, thereupon, put a pinch of cocoa 
and a pinch of tea into the can and 'went away. 
When the kettle was boiled, Mrs. M. filled the can 
with water and closed it with the cap, which was 
cover and cup combined. She noticed that the can 
was of tin and the cap of enamel, as if he had found 
old ones somewhere. She then left the can outside 
the back door. He did not remove it, however, 
until it was quite cold, and then went to the end of 
the yard carrying it in. his hand. She never saw 
him take his. meal, but she heard that he took a 
slice of bread with it. During the time from 1 p.m. 
to. 2 p.m. his duty was to open the gate to admit the 
lorries, and if necessary to load them with the man 
in charge, of same. When not so employed, he 
retired to the little office or to the end of the yard, 
where Mrs. M.'s children saw him praying. He did 
not mind the children, but if a grown person came 
in view he rose from his knees and came out of the 
office, or from .behind the timber. Mrs. M. noticed 
that the inside of the can and of the cap were coated 
with cocoa sediment and she asked Matt if he 
would allow her to wash -them, but he refused to 
allow this to be done, and, as he was exceedingly 
clean in his person, she assumed he did this from a 
desire for mortification. 

When he called with the can she sometimes tried 
to enter into a conversation with him. He would 
not discuss news, but always brought the conversa- 
tion round to the lives of the saints. He was most 

46 



THE DAILY R U N D F P R A Y E R 

unassuming and gentle in his manner and when she 
spoke of some incident in the fighting which was 
going on in Dublin during this period (1920-1922) 
he always said he never heard of it because he had 
made a resolution not to look at. the placards. The 
incident of the blowing up of the London North 
Western Hotel has already been spoken of and his 
action in connection with' it. 

He often said to Mrs. M. that it was a pity men 
did not love God more; that he went to Mass every 
morning; and that others could do the same if they 
liked. When he spoke like this, it seemed quite 
natural to him, and he never gave her any 
other impression than that of a holy old man who 
could only speak of God. Sometimes he found eggs 
which had been laid by Mrs. M.'s hens amongst the 
timber. These he always brought to her, and when 
she asked him why he did not keep some, he replied 
that they were not. his to keep. When she offered 
him some, he declined to accept them. 

He was very fond of Mrs. M.'s children, especially 
Teresa, because of his devotion to the great St. 
Teresa. He allowed the children to play near him 
when he was at prayer, and sometimes he would 
lead Teresa by the hand down the yard speaking to 
her of God and the angels. Teresa was then about 
eight years .old, and Matt, when he wished to in- 
struct her, would join her hands together and hold 
them in his own hands. He told her always to pray 
to St. Teresa for anything she wanted and that she 
would get it When he spoke of her guardian angel 

47i ' 



LI F E F M A T T T A L B T 

he told her that when she was tempted to commit a" 
sin "to remember that her guardian angel and the 
devil were fighting together for her." 
The children were never forgotten at Christmas. 
When work ceased on Christmas Eve, Matt arrived 
at the gate-lodge and asked for them. A 
regular ceremony was then gone through while 
the children waited anxiously for their presents. 
First he proceeded to search his pockets most care- 
fully, pretending that he found it difficult to find 
the money. He next produced three sixpences, each 
carefully rolled up in a number, of bits of paper, 
which he solemnly unrolled until the sixpence was 
uncovered, and finally each child was presented 
with a' sixpence. However, the number of children 
increased until there were seven, so Matt, .finding it 
difficult to produce seven sixpences, reduced the 
amount, to threepence, and went 'through, the same 
procedure with the seven threepenny pieces. 

At 2 p.m. on the ordinary work-day he resumed 
his work until closing hours. Then he took off the 
old coat and hat, proceeded to the water-tap where 
he thoroughly washed his face and hands, drying 
them in a big red handkerchief, put on his outof : 
doors coat and hat and went ^io St. Laurence 
O'Toole's Church to pay a short visit before return- 
ing home. He told Mrs. 'M. that he kept his. work- 
ing clothes in the yard as he did not wish to enter 
the House of God in them. , 

The foreman in this yard (E. C.) states that as 
Messrs. Martins were Catholics they did not open 

' " 48 . . - 



CHURCH OF ST. LAURENCE O'TOOLE. 




Matt Talbot visited this Church daily " to see Our Lord on 
the way down " to work. 



[Facing page 48 



L I F E F M A T T T A L B T 

he told her that when she was tempted to commit a" 
sin "to remember that her guardian angel and the 
devil were fighting together for her." 

The children were never forgotten at Christmas. 
When work ceased on Christmas Eve, Matt arrived 
at the gate-lodge and asked for them. A 
regular ceremony was then gone through while 
the children waited anxiously for their presents. 
First he proceeded to search his pockets most care- 
fully, pretending that he found it difficult to find 
the money. He next produced three sixpences, each 
carefully rolled up in a number of bits of paper, 
which he solemnly unrolled until the sixpence was 
uncovered, and finally each child was presented 
with a sixpence. However, the number of children 
increased until there were seven, so Matt, finding it 
difficult to produce seven sixpences, reduced the 
amount to threepence, and went through the same 
procedure with the seven threepenny pieces. 

At 2 p.m. on the ordinary work-day he resumed 
his work until closing hours. Then he took off the 
old coat and hat, proceeded to the water-tap where 
he thoroughly washed his face and hands, drying 
them in a big red handkerchief, put on his out-of- 
doors coat and hat and went to St. Laurence 
O'Toole's Church to pay a short visit before return- 
ing home. He told Mrs. M. that he kept his work- 
ing clothes in the yard as he did not wish to enter 
the House of God in them. 

The foreman in this yard (E. C.) states that as 
Messrs. Mart-ins were Catholics they did not open 

48 



CHURCH OF ST. LAURENCE O'TOOLE. 




llutt Talbot visited tliis Church daily " to see Our Lord on 
the wav down " to work. 



[Facing page 48 



THE NOTE-TAKING HABIT. 



* 




Matt Talbot committed to writing every striking passage 
in the books he read. 



THE DAILY ROUND OF PRAYER 

the yards on Catholic Holy Days,, until 8.45 a.m., 
to enable the men to go to Mass before .coming' to 
work. As one of the foremen was a Protestant and 
could not.be expected to know the dates of these 
Holy Days, Matt invariably went to him on the eve 
of the Holy Day and told him " not. to forget that 
to-morrow is a Mass morning." This was done to 
prevent a misunderstanding in the morning when 
the men arrived late, and also to let the," foreman 
know that he need not attend himself before the 
later hour. 

It is of interest to know that " Matt's Office " was 
presented to Mrs. M., when Castle Forbes was sold 
by Messrs. Martin's, and is now erected in her new 
home. She also possesses Matt's old cap and the 
" billy can " in which she so often made his cocoa,' 
or rather the nauseous mixture of cocoa and tea 
which he partook of as his midday meal. 

Having finished his visit to the Blessed Sacrament 
in St. Laurence O'Toole's Church x he returned 
home, where his sister, Mrs. Fylan, who lived near 
him, had his dinner ready. Of this meal we shall 
speak later. His procedure on entering his room 
was to remove his coat and hat, go to the dressing- 
table where the Crucifix stood, fervently kiss the foot 
of same and then, still, on his knees, go to the table 
where his meal was ready and partake of same 
kneeling, Mrs. Fylan was present' all the time, and 
when he had finished 'she tidied up the room, and 
having left the cocoa ready for the morning, went 
to her own home. Prior to 1915, while his mother 

49 



THE NOTE-TAKING HAT5TT. 




Matt Talhot coimnitted to writing every striking passage 
in the books he read. 



THE DAILY ROUND OF PRAYER 

the yards on Catholic Holy Days until 8.45 a.m., 
to enable the men to go to Mass before coming to 
work. As one of the foremen was a Protestant and 
could not be expected to know the dates of these 
Holy Days, Matt invariably went to him on the eve 
of the Holy Day and told him " not to forget that 
to-morrow is a Mass morning." This was done to 
prevent a misunderstanding in the morning when 
the men arrived late, and also to let the foreman 
know that he need not attend himself before the 
later hour. 

It is of interest to know that " Matt's Office " was 
presented to Mrs. M., when Castle Forbes was sold 
by Messrs. Martin's, and is now erected in her new 
home. She also possesses Matt's old cap and the 
" billy can " in which she so often made his cocoa,' 
or rather the nauseous mixture of cocoa and tea 
which he partook of as his midday meal. 

Having finished his visit to the Blessed Sacrament 
in St. Laurence O'Toole's Church l he returned 
home, where his sister, Mrs. Fylan, who lived near 
him, had his dinner ready. Of this meal we shall 
speak later. His procedure on entering his room 
was to remove his coat and hat, go to the dressing- 
table where the Crucifix stood, fervently kiss the foot 
of same and then, still, on his knees, go to the table 
where his meal was ready and partake of same 
kneeling. Mrs. Fylan was present all the time, and 
when he had finished she tidied up the room, and 
having left the cocoa ready for the morning, went 
to her own home. Prior to 1915, while his mother 

49 



LIFE OF MATT T A L B T 

was alive, either Mrs. Andrews or Mrs. Fylan 
looked after their mother as she was unable to leave 
the room-, but after her mpther's death Mrs. Fylan, 
who was then in charge, did not, as a rule, return 
again to Matt's room until he had gone to work next 
morning. When he was alone his prayers and 
spiritual reading began, and continued without 
interruption until 10.30 or 11 p.m., except on the 
nights when he had to attend at one or other of the 
churches where tlie devotions of some of the con- 
fraternities to which he belonged were in progress. 
Before 11 p.m. he retired to his plank bed and 
'wooden pillow for the few hours sleep which he 
allowed himself. 

x 

On Sunday he had a very full day. If it were the 
first Sunday of the month he went to St. Francis 
Xavier's, because that was the Men's Sodality Holy 
Communion day. On the second Sunday of the 
month he went to the Franciscan Church (O.F.M.), 
Merchants' Quay, for the, monthly Communion of 
the Third Order of St. Francis. He also belonged 
to the Confraternities of the Blessed Sacrament 
(Franciscan); Living Rosary (Dominican); Bona 
Mors (Jesuit) ; and to the Apostleship of Prayer. On 
other Sundays he went either to St. Francis Xavier's 
or to the Pro-Cathedral , Marlborough Street. He 
liked the latter church because of tlie number of 
Masses said there on Sunday by priests passing 
through Dublin. One of his books of devotion 
contains the following entry: -"On Feast of the 
Seven -Joys B.V.M., 22nd August, 1915> I, Matt 

50 



TR.E DAILY ROUND OF PRAYER 



Talbot, was present at twenty-one Masses." On 
the .following- page is the entry; that on. the 15th 
August, being the Sunday previous, he had attended 
twenty-one Masses. When the first life appeared 
it was questioned if any church in Dublin had so 
many as twenty-one Masses on Sunday. The writer 
found the proof in the statement of J. G., who 
informed him that on one occasion Matt- Talbot told 
him he had heard twenty-one Masses on the Sunday 
previous at the Pro-Cathedral. J. G. questioned 
the possibility of being able to attend twenty-one 
Masses, but Matt corrected J. O.'s idea that they 
need not be one after the other, and told. him that so 
long as one had the intention of hearing the Masses 
which were being said, it was only necessary 
actually to follow one Mass. There. was no difficulty 
whatever in twenty-one Masses' being said in the 
Pro-Cathetlral on a Sunday. 

Before his illness he remained in the church from 
the opening on Sunday morning until the very end' 
of Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, which is 
given in the principal churches after the 12 o'clock 
Mass. In one case he left the church in order to go to 
hear an extra Mass. This was on the second Sunday, 
when he attended the Franciscan Church, Mer- 
chants' Quay. The Third Qrder Mass was at 8 
o'clock, and as there was no 9 o'clock Mass, Matt 
used to leave the church at 8.30 and go to the 
Augustinian Church, John's Lane, which was quite 
close, atlend 9 o'clock Mass there, and return to the 
Franciscan Church for the 10 o'clock Mass. 

51 



LIFE OF MATT T A L B T 

He returned to his room about 2 p.m., when he 
broke his fast for the first time, having been without 
food from ,6.30 p..m. on the previous day. 'In the 
last few years of his life he returned home after 
early Mass and had breakfast . He then returned to 
the church for the remaining Sunday. Masses. It 
will be seen that he was actually on his way to St. 
Saviour's, Dominick Street, at 9.30 a.m., when he 
dropped dead. The remainder of the Sunday was 
spent as usual, in prayer or reading, or at. the Con- 
fraternity meeting. 




CHAPTER VI. 

THE EVENING PRAYER. 

E must now return to the hour, when having 
partaken of his evening meal at 6.30 p.m., 
*he prepared for prayer. While his mother 
lived they were together after his sister had with- 
drawn. On a chair beside the table were placed all 
the books of devotion required for the evening the 
various prayer books containing the litanies recited 
each day, the manual containing novenas, and 
whatever spiritual books he was then reading. 
Kneeling at the table he began to pray, and con- 
tinued until the various devotions were finished. 
He 'then either spoke to his mother on religious 
matters or read to her. If she were otherwise 
engaged he read in silence. It was a cheerful and 
happy room, as his devotion to his mother was very 
deep and tender. He joked and laughed when 
occasion demanded it, but their principal joy was 
to talk of their familiar Mends Jesus, Mary and 
Joseph and the Saints. Amongst the many saints 
whose lives he knew so well, he had a very great 
devotion, to the saints who had been sinners. He 
spoke of St. Mary Magdalene, St. Mary of Egypt, 
and of their lives of penance, with wonder and 
admiration, and loved to call attention to their great 
works of mortification, which for women seemed 
well-nigh incredible. In his simple way he spoke 

53 ' 



LIFE OP MATT TALBOT 

of them as "great girls," and sometimes, when his 
sister was present, he would call her over to the 
table to admire the picture of one of the holy women 
whose life he might have been reading. 

After his mother's death he lived alone, and 
generally prayed in the dark. As the window was 
without a blind the people who lived on the opposite 
side of the street knew when he was praying or 
reading by seeing the lamp being extinguished be- 
fore" he began to pray or being placed fully lighted 
on the table while he read. He was, of course* quite 
unaware of the interest his movements excited in 
his neighbours. : 

Amongst his regular prayers were fifteen mysteries 
of the Rosary . of Our Lady; the Little Office- of the 
Blessed Virgin; the Dolour beads; the beads of the 
Immaculate Conception; the beads of the Holy 
Ghost; the -beads of -St. Michael; the- beads of the 
Sacr-ed -Heart; the chaplet for the -Souls in Purga- 
tory; the "principal -Litanies; the prescribed novenas 
for each Church feast (these are marked in his 
-notes in some of his books of devotion) . Besides 
these, he recited in the Franciscan Church, after the 
meetings of the Third Order, of St. Francis, which 
he joined on the 18th October-, 1891, taking the 
names of Joseph Francis, the round of the -beads 
for each deceased member for whom prayers were 
asked at the meeting. 

When reading aloud, he had a very pleasant, 
-clear voice, and, at times, he would vary the reading 
by singing hymns. In connection with his reading 

54 



THE EVENING PRAYER 

it is important to remember that his education was 
very elementary, as he left school at the age of 
twelve years. One friend said to him that it was a 
pity he was not better educated, but Matt Talbot 
did not agree with this view and said that " God 
knew what- was best." This same friend writes: 
" As regards his spiritual life I think no person knew 
"anything about it except the late Father James 
" Walsh, S.J., and it is doubtful if he/knew very 
" much. He (Talbot) said to me on one occasion 
" that he had prayed very hard for the gift of prayer, 
*' and that it had been given to him in great 
" abundance. Although he, of course, said the 
" ordinary prayers usual .with Catholics, his prayer 
" was usually mental prayer, which he seemed a 
"great master of." This view is borne out by the 
experience of a lady (Miss B.), who formed his 
acquaintance in his later years, and who owned the 
collie dog which has been referred to. She states : 
" On a Saturday evening in the early Spring of 1924 
" I called at his room in 18 Upper Rutland Street, 
" about 3 p.m., with a few eggs. He received me 
" with great courtesy and set a chair for me near his 
" fire. When I sat down he sat down and we spoke 
" of his health. After a very little time he changed 
" the conversation to religious topics. He spoke of 
" the Gospels, the Scriptures, of Our Lady in par- 
" ticular, as he had a great devotion to her; of 
"various saints,- but especially St. Augustine, St. 
" Ignatius of Loyola, St. Francis Xavier, St. Francis 
"Borgia and St. Alphonsus Rodriguez. He seemed 

55 



LIFE OF MAT T T A L B T 

" to have a great knowledge, .of. and admiration for 
" the Jesuit Saints. I was quite entranced with. his 
" conversation, which was very beautiful; and did 
" not realise how long I. was with him until I saw 
" his clock. I asked if th.e clock was .right, and 
".he said it was. It was then 6 o'clock and I had 
" been listening to him for three hours, though I did 
"not believe I was more than half an hour with 
" him. As I apologised for my long stay, his face 
" lit. up with pleasure, and he thanked me warmly 
" for my visit. One thing he mentioned was that 
" he had read in the life of a saint whose name I 
" cannot recall, that he never got up from his. knees 
" in the church lest he should be distracted. Matt 
" Talbot said that was why he did not stand up 
"either. His little room was poor but clean and 
" tidy. I noticed that the bed was very flat and was 
" covered with a dark quilt which covered pillow 
" and all. I often called at his room with a little 
" present of eggs, which I asked him to beat up and 
" eat. He always smiled and said he would. I 
" was usually accompanied by an Irish terrier dog, 
" which he insisted on allowing into the room, 
" saying he was very fond of dogs. On such occa- 
" sions we did. not speak of religious subjects, and I 
" did not delay. o He was very reticent until I got 
" to know him, when he spoke quite freely." 

We cannot pierce the veil which shadows the 
hours spent in the silence of his room alone with 
God, but from his books we may be able to, recon- 
struct the scene and follow his thoughts. Scattered 

56 



JT H E E YEN ING PRAYER 

through his books, were scraps of, paper which he 
had carried home from. the. timber yard. As has 
.keen! stated, his duty in his later years w.as.to select 
certain classes of timber required for, the furniture 
department, or for customers. The orders came on 
half sheets of notepaper, and these Talbot appears 
to have put into his pocket for his own use after- 
wards. Others of the notes are on bits of paper torn 
from a passbook, in fact the nearest scrap of paper 
was used to write down, the extracts from his 

s 

spiritual books or from sermons heard in church. 
Some are written in ink, some with an ordinary 
black-lead pencil, some with indelible or coloured 
pencil. All do not refer to religious subjects but to 
some fact which he had heard or read, and which 
struck him at the time as worthy of note. Thus we 
firid the distances from the Earth to the Sun and to 
the fixed stars evidently taken from a book on the 
various heavens given in the old astronomies, the 
one now quoted being from Christopher Glavitis. 
In connection with his reading he, once told D. M., 
a clerk in Messrs. Martin's, that he was reading 
Cardinal Newman's " Apologia." D. M. remarked 
that a book like that was too high-class for a man 
like him; that he (D. M.) had tried to read.it and 
had to give it up as it was altogether above him. 
Matt Talbot replied that whenever he read a book 
he always prayed to-God to give him light to under- 
stand it, or, at least,sto understand the main points 
of the book; that he thought he got enough of light 
to understand most of what he read. Readers of the 

57 ' ' 



LIFE 'OF MATT T A L B T 

lives of the saints will remember that it is hot an 
uncommon experience to find very holy souls . who 
were without education able to read and understand 
books of the most profound mystical theology, and 
possessing- an accuracy of thought and a, precision of 
expression which could only be the result of 
knowledge directly infused by the Holy Ghost. 
We need not, therefore, be surprised to find a man 
so gifted with the spirit of prayer as Matt Talbot 
was, .reading with full understanding the books 
found in his little library. 

These little scraps of paper reveal the very soul 
of the man and show his own beautiful character 
much better than the words of a biographer can do. 
They shall be allowed to tell their own tale : 
From the note-book : * 

" Speak not evil of the rich man in the private 
chamber because even the birds of the air will 
carry thy voice and he that hath wings will tell 
what thou has said. Book Gle. & G. 19 V." 

" Cursed be the deceitful man, says God, who 
has a male in his flock yet sacrifices an infirm 
creature to me, because I am a great King says 
the Lord of Hosts and my name is terrible 
amongst the Nations. The Prophet Malachy the 
I.G. &14V." 

" 1. Draw me after Thee oh Heart of J.esus and 
I shall run in the odour of the ointments. 2. 
Grant me oh Jesus Thy Grace x and Love ^md I 
shall be rich enough. 3. The Sparrow has found 
herself a house and the turtle dove a nest to de- 

58 



T H E E V EN I N G PRAYER 

posit her young. Thy heart oh Jesus shall be my 
rest and repose. -4. May -iny eyes and my heart 
be always on the wound of Thy .Blessed Heart oh 
Jesus. 5. Who shall separate us from the Heart 
of Jesus. 6. Heart of Jesus be Thou the object 
of all the affections -of my heart. 7. Lord give 
me of that water flowing from Thy Heart and I 
shall never thirst. 8. Heart of Jesus support the 
weak, clothe me with Thy strength. , 9." (An 
abrupt stop.) 
Next follows -the prayer for- the beatification of 

the Little Flower, copied out in Matt Talbot's 

writing. As it is well known it is not given. 

"St. Veronica 
" The Blessed (sic) told her banish all anxiety 

for her to 3 letters: 

"The 1st Purity of the affections by placing 
her whole heart in God alone, loving no creature 
but in Him; and for her 2nd Never to miif mur 
or be impatient at the sins or any behaviour of 
others but to bear them with interior peace and 
patience and humbly to pray for them and 3rd to 
set apart some time every day to meditate on the 
Passion of Christ." 
-" Liberty of Spirit means that freedom from 

- self-love that makes the soul prompt in doing 
God's -will in the least thing." 

"0 Most Sweet Jesus mortify within me all 
that is bad make it die. Put to death in me all 
that is vicious and unruly. Kill whatever dis-. 
pleases Thee, mortify within me all that is my 

59 



LIFE OF M-A.T-T- TALBOT 

. own,. .Give .me true . Jmmility, true patience and 

. ...true .charity.. Grant me -the perfect . cpntrpl of 

... my. tongue, nly'.' (ends here). 

... ""What is Mystical Theology. (It) is the 

.science that .deals with God and divine things; 

the truths revealed by God and all that results 

from revelations. The word mystical means 

secret,, hidden, obscure. Mystical Theology, 

therefore, is. that part of the General Science of 

Theology which treats about the secret and 

hidden things. Union of the Soul with God, it 

is also used as in the present treatise. C. the 12 

to denote ....."' 

" When Our Lord showed Sister Francesca of 
the Bleeding Sacrament, a Spanish Garmelitess, 
the loss of a soul and several times in a vision 
compelled her positively to study separate tor- 
tures . of that place, upbraided her for weeping. 
France'sca why weepest thou? She fell prostrate 
at the Sacred Feet and said Lord for the damna- 
tion of that soul and the manner in which it has 
been damned. He vouchsafed to reply, Daughter 
it hath chosen to damji itself I have given it many 
helps of grace that it might be saved." 
These end the notebook, except for a note which 
was only started and conveys nothing to the reader. 
The scraps of paper found by the writer amounted 
to thirty-six, and for convenience are numbered 
1 to 36: / - 

1. As to nobility of blood, true nobility is to be 
derived only from the blood of the Son of God. 

60 



THE; E V E N I N G PRAYER 

2. Love is a Sweet Tyrant, sweet- to the person 
beloved but a tyrant to the lover that is Jesus 
Christ that is God. 

'3 v The heathen philosophers when (they) 'knew 
God had not glorified Him as God or given 
thanks but became vain in their thoughts and 
their foolish hearts were darkened wherefore God 
gave them up *o the sameful affections and to 
the desire of their own heart to uncleanness. 
(N.B. This note has been altered, 'as in the 

original it' is slightly mixed up through misplacing 

some of the words). ' ' 

4. He that oppresseth the poor upbraideth his 
maker, but he that hath pity on the poor 
honoureth him. Prov. 14 G. 31 V. 

5. God says^St. Augustine can only be honoured 
by love., 

6. How I long that Thou mayest be master of 
my heart my Lord Jesus. 

- 7. O King of Penitents who pass for fools .in 
the opinion of the world but very dear to you oh, 
Jesus Christ. 

8. (This is not in Talbot's handwriting but is 
in a woman's- hand. It is the prayer of the Angel 
of the Agony from the Dream of Gerontius by 
Cardinal Newman, beginning: 

"Jesus ! by the shuddering dread which fell on 
Thee ") 

On the back of this prayer, in the handwriting 
of Matt Talbot, is a note about " St. Ignatius 846 
and Photius; the Council of Constance 809, the 

.61 



LIFE OF MATT T A ;L BO T 

death of St. Ignatius 878, 4 score years old. 608 
St. Ulric the first Saint solemnly canonized by the 
Church 4th July 973." :. . :...;.' 

9. The exterior acts of religion are 3 Adora- 
tion, Sacrifice and Vows.; 

10. Three Substances were united in Christ- 
His Divinity, His Soul and Body. - 

11. Absolute miracle is ~fro$n God alone, a 
miracle from an angel is an efficient -miracle done 
by His own strength. Hume tells us that a 
miracle may be accurately defined a transgression 
of a law of nature by a particular volition of the 
Deity. 

- 12. Should (you) ;ask^ me what is Grace, I 
answer you Grace as Divines (?) define it is a 
participation of the Divine nature that is God, 
Sanctity, Purity and Greatness by virtue of which 
a man. rises from the baseness and filth he re- 
ceived from Adam. 

13. The prophet Amas-G. 8 v. 9 & 10. The 
sun shall go down at midday and I will make the 
earth dark in the day of Light and I will turn 
your feasts into mourning and all songs into 
lamentations. 

14. All flesh have sinned and all flesh iruist 
suffer. St. Ambrose says without combat there is 
no victory and without victory, there is no Grown. 

15. Our Lord appeared to St. Gertrude pale, 
weary and bleeding and dirt stained and said 

, open your heart my daughter for I want to go in 
and lie down 7 . I am weary of these days of sin, 

62 



THE EVENING PR A Y E R 

16. Sin is an excessive evil because it is an 
infinite evil. 

17. Perfect happiness consists of the full activity 
of a perfect nature. The angels have it. 

18. At present the human body is an animal 
body inasmuch as to preserve its life on this earth 
so it is (necessary) to nourish it with earthly food. 

19. What do the letters I.H.S. mean. It means 
they are the first three letters of the name Jesus 
in the Greek language. 

20. The word Canon signifies a rule or ordin- 
ance of prayer, human testimony to prove miracles 
(ends). 

21. Jesus, says Origen, is the Sun of Justice 
arising with the Spring of Grace upon our hearts. 

22. The Holy House 13 F. 3" hi (sic) 29 F. 4" 
length, 12 F. 8" width.. 

23. The Heart of Jesus is with me. Stop cease. 
The inhabitants of Antioch it is related once 



arrested a violent, earthquake by writing on doors 
of their houses Jesus Christ is with us, Cease. 

24. Sir Henry Wotton a great authority on the 
point, Ambassador at Venice, tells us that an 
Ambassador is one sent to foreign Courts to invent 
lies for his country's good. 

25. Blessed Mother obtain from Jesus a share 
of His Folly. . 

26. It is the will of God that man should have 
two lives, the one natural the other supernatural.. 

27. The sons of Man neither know what is the 
greatness of what is eternal nor the baseness of 

63 



L I F E P MATT T A D B O T 

what is temporal. The- time of life is but a career 
of death in which no man is permitted to make 
stay. . - 

28. The Pope is subject to no human authority. 
This is his temporal power. Christ is not divided 
so neither is His Church divided . . . . after 
all the world can do God is still upon His Throne. 

The obedience of Jesus Christ to the will of 
God was the recognition of the Sovereignty of 
God over the will of man. 

29. The teaching of theologians that al! 4 venial 
sins with which a just man dies are remitted as 
to the guilt at the moment when the soul is 
separated from the body, by virtue of an Act of 
Love of God and the perfect contrition which it 
'then excites over all its faults. In fact' the soul 
at this moment knows its condition perfectly, and 
the sins of which it has been guilty before God, 
and all the stain of guilt has then disappeared but 
the pain remains to be endured in all its rigour 
and long duration. ' 

30. 'To constitute a mortal sin three circum- 
stances must be united (1) The matter must be 
grave and (2) the mind must have a full know- 
ledge of the culpability of the act which it com- 
mits or of the omission which it permits or of the 
danger of the occasion of sin to which it exposes 
itself (3) the will must decide with ah entire 
consent and a criminal preference for the for- 
bidden act, - the culpable omission, or the 
dangerous occasion. ' - 

64 . 



THE E V E N I N G PRAYER 

31. The Body and the Soul of Jesus Christ 
were united by the hypostatic Union, that is by 
the personalassumption of our manhood into God 
to the -Person of the eternal Son two natures in 
one, person Jesus Christ. 

The use of the will is to do good but the abuse 
of the will is to do evil. . 

32. One Our Father, one Hail Mary in honour 
of life ignominy of Jesus offer yourself to God 
Avith Joy and Peace. Man enjoys by the Union 
of a God to his nature an advantage which the 
Angels never possessed. 

33: The Kingdom of Heaven was promised not 
to the sensible and the educated but to such as 
have the spirit of little children. 

34. Oh Virgin I only ask three things the Grace 
of God, the Presence of God, the Benediction of 
God. , 

35. In Meditation, we labour to seek God. by 
reasoning and by good acts, but in Contemplation 
we behold Him without labour already found. 
In Meditation, the mind labours, operating with 
its power, but in Contemplation it is God Himself 
who operates, and the soul merely receives the 
infused gifts. 

"36. What do I want to speak to you when I 

have Jesus to speak to me. 

Amongst these little extracts and prayers was a 
very beautiful prayer, not in his own handwriting, 
for his spiritual director. It begins, "Oh, my God, 
bless, guide and enlighten him amongst Thy 

'65 



LIFE OF MATT TALBQT 

Ministers to whom Thou hast entrusted the, guidance 
of my Soul .; . ...,". which would .go ...to show 
that there must have been some priest, to whom he 
confided his mode of life, but who pre-deceased 
him this shall be referred to : later on. - * 

The high spirituality revealed by the extracts 
given above is further emphasized by the nature of 
the books which formed his usual reading. He had 
a large box filled with books ranging from the book- 
lets issued by the Catholic Truth Society of Ireland 
and the Irish Messenger Office to. large and expensive 
books which he bought or which were presented 
to him. His memory was so good that he could 
give the dats of the births, deaths, and canoniza- 
tions of almost all the .great saints in the calendar. 
At the end of this chapter is given a fairly compre- 
hensive list qf : his principal books. He had a very 
tender devotion to Our Lady, and his, love for her 
followed close, as does the love of all spiritual souls, 
on his devotion to Our Blessed Lord. That he_ could 
read with full understanding a work such as the 
Mystical City of God, compiled from the writings of 
Mary of Agreda, the Spanish Mystic, shows that 
he was himself deeply versed in .the highest form 
of mystical prayer. This book he obtained with 
difficulty, having apparently to procure it; outside 
Ireland, possibly owing to the difficulty of importing 
books during the Great War, and he never parted, 
with it. Another book on Qur Lady which he highly 
prized was "True Devotion to the Blessed yirgin," 
by the Blessed Louis Marie Grignion de Montfori, 

* 

66 



THE EVENING PRAYER 

\ 

from which he first got the idea of wearing chains. 

During the ten years which elapsed between the 
death of his mother and his own death these evening 
hours are., clothed, in silence. To be alone with 
Jesus he had gone aside from the crowd, and what 
passed between him and the Great Lover of his 
Soul was known only to themselves. We have got 
a glimpse of his prayer in the early morning when 
his mother watched him in an ecstasy ppuring out 
his soul to God and God's Mother. Once or twice 
he broke the silence: speaking to his. sister, Mrs. 
Fylan, he complained of the lack of the love of God 
amongst men, and said, " Susan, if I could only tell 
you. of the great joy I had last night talking to . 
God and the Blessed Virgin." But such confidences 
were very rare, and should he think he had spoken 
too much of himself he would say at once that there 
was no credit due to him but to God, Who gave 
him such grace. . ..''' 

We shall conclude this chapter with a list of some 
of his books, though they do not, by any means, 
represent all that he read. He borrowed books from 
friends,, and from the libraries of religious houses. 
These were returned, and therefore, their .names 
are unknown* : .The attached list is given merely to . 
show the class of books he had trained himself to 
read. with. appreciation and, understanding: r "'. 

The Holy .Bible and: the. New Testament. , ' .. 

"The Sufferings jjf Our Lord Jesus 

Christ." '"'"'"' ....: '"' ... . . ../ ByFr. Thomas of Jesus. . 

" Imitation, of the Sacred Heart." . 

..' 67i ' 



L I F E O F M AT T T A L BO T 

" Our Divine Saviour." ...' ... By the Bishop .of Newport 
" The School of Christ." ... ... By Pere Grou, S.J. . 

"Christ Among Men." ... ... By L'Abbe Sertillange. 

"All for Jesus." ... ... By Father Faber. 

" The Real Presence." ,.. ... By Pere Eymard. 

-" Eucharistic Retreats." ... ... By Pere Eymard! 

"Manual for Interior Souls." .'.. By Pere Grou. 
" Spiritual Conference." ... ... By, Father Faber. 

"Spiritual Instructions." ...- ... By Veh. Blosius. 
" Introduction to the Devout Life." By St. Francis de Sales. 
"The Science of the Soul." , . 

"Meditations on the Hidden Life." . 

"The Precious Blood." ... ' ... By Father Faber. 
"Loss and Gain." ... ... ... By Newman. - 

" Arians of the 4th Century/' .... By Newman. 

"Essays on Miracles." ... ... By Newman. 

"Leaves from St. Augustine." ... By Allies. 

"Life of St. Augustine." "... By Bishop Moriarty. 

" Life of St. Elizabeth of Hungary." By Jones. 

" Life of St. Elizabeth of Hungary." By Montalembert. 

"Lives of F. A. Talpa, etc." - 

" Lives of Fabrizzio dell' Aste." ' , 

"The Mystical City of God." ... By Mary of Agreda. 

" True Devotion to. the Blessed By Blessed Louis 

Virgin." ... .... .... Marie Grigniqn de 

Montfort. 

" Social Value of the Gospel." ... By Carriquet. 
"Democratic Industry." ... ... By Fr. Husslein," S.J. 

" Butler's Lives of the Saints." 2 vols. 

."Behold Thy Mother." ByFr. Russell, S.J. 

"Present Position of Catholics in 

England." ^ .... .*-. ' .... By Newman. 

"Course of Religious Instruction." By" Fr. Schouppe, S.-J.-- , ; - 

"Preparation for Death." . - - 

" Old and Nev/." ... ... ~ ... By Rev. N J. Walsh, S.J. 

"History of Devotion to the Blessed Virgin." ;. .. ~- . 

"The Devout Pilgrims of the Ever Blessed Virgin Mary." . 
"Purgatory according .,to St. ^Catherine of Genoa,". 
" Life of St. John of the Cross." 



68 



CHAPTER VII. 

FASTS AND MORTIFICATIONS. 

GHE extraordinary severity of Matt Talbot's 
austerities has -caused many inquiries as to the 
possibility of there being an error in the 
account- given of them in the original little Life. So 
far from there being any error, the writer is con- 
vinced from all investigations since made by him 
that the Life contains an exact account of Matt 
Talbot's fasts. These began almost with his conver- 
sion, and continued, with increasing severity, until 
illness compelled him to make some small conces- 
sion to his bodily health. His sister, Mrs. Andrews, 
as already stated, says that his fasts began while 
he lived in lodgings in Gloucester Street, some 
years prior to his father's death: He concealed his 

v * -- 

fjasts very successfully from his fellow- workers 
and from friends outside his immediate family by 
a rule of not persisting in refusing food if pressed 
to partake of same. . 

M. D., a sawyer in Messrs. Martin's, who was a 
very old friend of Matt Talbot, states that he pre- 
pared Matt's midday meal for many years, and that 
it consisted of a cup of ^ea and a slice of dry bread. 
If it were a fast day Matt took no milk in the tea. 
The lunch, however, was a ; very hurried meal. 
Matt arrived about 11.15 a.m., when M. D. had the 

'.'' ,69 



LIFE OF M A T ,T T A, L B T 

water boiling and the tea made. Matt then 
hurriedly ate the piece of bread- Avhich, he had 
brought in his pocket, drank the tea and rushed 
back to his work. If M, D. had not the tea ready, 

Matt did not wait for it but left the shed. In the 

/ 

many years that M. D. prepared the midday meal 
he only saw ; Matt bring a little meat on three 6cc$,- 
sions. In 1920, M. D. met with an accident aricfcwas 
retired on pension, after 50 years' service. It was 
tljen that Matt asked Mrs. M. to prepare his tea for 
him. M. D. says ; that it was -always tea r he took 
prior to 1920 and the cocoa would appear tb be a 
later addition. Matt's lunch hour being an unusual 
one, M.. D. had to accommodate himself to Matt's 
ideas and take his own lunch at the same time as 

i 

Matt did. M.D. states that Matt Talbot during nine 
months of the year never eat meat. 

When stocktaking was on, Matt was sometimes 
kept in the office on a Saturday with one of the 
foremen, W. G., to whom the housekeeper sent 
some tea and bread and butter. W. G. divided the 
bread and butter with Matt, who, having carefully 
scraped the butter off the bread, ate the dry bread 
without comment. In consequence of Matt Talbot' s 
rule of not refusing food, a friend of nearly 30 years' 
standing did not realize the full nature .of his fasts 
because when his friend invited Matt to his house 
to lend him books and .persuaded him to wait for 
tea, Matt invariably made' an excellent meal. Mrs. 
H., who knew his Secret, made iise of her know- 
ledge to make him take a meal in her house when- 

70 ' 



HIS PASTS & M R T I F I C A T 10 N S 

' . , f 

ever he called to see' her. To this friencLhe stated 
that a hearty meal did not agree with him owing to 
his abstemious habits. One old friend (J. G.), 
who had many interesting stories .of. Matt Talbot, 
said that Matt spoke to him about fasting and tried 
to get him to do severe fasts. J. G. replied that he 
could not do more than he was doing. Matt then 
mentioned some of his own fasts and told J. G. that 
he. should punish his body and " not be studying 
the gut," that being: his homely way of describing 
too much attention to matters of food. . 

The fasts which he performed when in his usual 
good health, that is. until about two years before 
his death, were as follow: 

During Lent complete black-fast every day on two 
slight meals without meat or butter. During 
June, in honour of the Sacred Heart, a similar 
black-fast. Every Saturday and every vigil of a 
Feast Day, a black fast. Every Wednesday no 
meat, but, occasionally, a little butter. Probably 
the .full Franciscan fasts after their abrogation by 
Pope Leo XIII. At other times of the year his 
routine was -Sunday, his ordinary dinner at 2 
o'clock, that beifig his first meal of the day; if this 
were!' fairly substantial,. he did not. eat again, but if 
it were a light meal, he partook of cocoa or tea and 
bread about 6 p.m. Monday , dry bread and black 
-tea. Tuesday, if not a vigil of a Feast or in Lent, 
breakfast consisted of cocoa and bread and buller; 
dinner of a little meat. Thursday was as Tuesday, 
and Friday a full .fast. When he was getting old he 

.i' ' 

71 



LIFE OF M A T T T A L' B T 

found a difficulty in swallowing dry bread and to 
enable him to eat it without butter he got his sister, 
Mrs. Fylan, to boil a whiting and to steep the bread 
in the water in which the whiting had been cooked. 
He did not eat the whiting itself, which Mrs. Fylan 
took home. Later on, to avoid the expense, Jhe 
got Mrs. Fylan to bring with her some of the water 
in which she had boiled the fish for her own dinner 
and this he used with his bread. When his health 
broke down completely and he had to abstain from 
work, he ate whatever was recommended and would 
take meat, an egg, or bread and butter. 

We have seen that every night he slept on a plank 
bed with a wooden pillow, covered with a half 
blanket, summer and winter, or with a few sacks 
in very cold weather. This he had done for many 
years, as his sister, Mrs; Andrews, states that he 
first used the plank bed when he lived in Gloucester 
Street. The effect of the wooden pillow was that in 
later years his 'face became numbed and his hearing 
impaired. On this bed he slept in chains. These 
he appears to have worn for about fourteen years 
prior to his death, though", some of his most familiar 
friends were unaware of the fact thjit he wore them, 
as he confided this information to very few; and then 
only with the object of encouraging them to do like- 
wise. One lady who greatly desired a spiritual 
favour for a near relative was advised to wear a 
chain and did so. J. G. tells the story of the chain 
with not a little humour. Matt and J. G. were good 
friends as they lived near each other in Middle 

72.'. . ' ' ' '", '- 



HIS FAS T S & M R TIP I C AT I N S 

Gardiner Street, and Matt often visited J. G. in the 
latter's room, J. G. being a bachelor. One Sunday, 
Matt informed J. G. that he had read of a devotion 
which lifted him from earth to Heaven, and, in 
reply to J. G.'s inquiry as to what it was, said 
it was the wearing of a chain. J. G. asked if he 
.had it on him and Matt said " Yes " and showed 
a, small chain wound round his leg. It was the same 
class of chain as was used to hang the weights of a 
clock. Matt lent J. G. the life of St. Catherine of 
Sienna, and J. G. asked Matt if he had read in that 
life that St. .Catherine wore a chain. He looked 
confused and said he supposed, she did. J. G. then 
said that she wore it round her waist and that after 
her death it was found embedded ,in her flesh, an 
exact parallel of what happened in the case of Matt 
Talbcit himself. It was, however, the book of 
Blessed Grigriion de Montfort which caused Matt to 
wear chains. He induced J. G. to wear a chain and 
brought the latter to Clonliffe College, where he had 
him enrolled in the chain by one of the* priests. 
At_ v first Matt wore the- principal chain around his 
shoulders j but as this prevented him from carrying/ 
the timber he changed it to his waist. He told this 
to Mrs. X, when speaking to her about wearing a 
chain. The following is the statement made by 
those who undressed Matt Talbot's body in the 
mortuary at Jervis Street Hospital when he was 
brought in dead from the street: " On Sunday, 
" June 7th; 1925, a dead body was brought in the 
" Corporation Ambulance to Jervis Street Hospital. 

""". : ; ' 73 



LI F E P MA T T T ALB T 

" On the body being identified, it proved to be..- Mr., 
"Matt Talbot and when we the undersigned un- 
" dressed the remains we found chains, ropes 
"and beads on the said body. Around the middle 
"of his waist were two chains and a knotted rope. 
" One chain we took to be an ordinary chain used as 
"a horse trace, and the other a little thinner. Both 
" were entwined by a knotted rope and medals were 
" attached to the chain by cords. Both were deeply 
" embedded in the flesh and rusted. Also on the 
" left arm was found a light chain .tightly wound 
" above the elbow, and on the right arm above the 
" elbow a knotted cord. On his left leg a chain was 
" bound round with a cord below the knee, and 
" on the right leg, in the same position, was some 
"heavy .knotted cord. Around his neck was a 
" very big beads and attached to same were a great 
"many religious medals. Some of the medals 
" were as big as a half-crown and others ordinary 
"sodality medals. 

(Signed) " Charles Manners, Laurence Thorn ton, 
" Jeryis Street Hospital." 

All my devotions whether in church, or at home, 
or even in the timber yard were, as we have seen, 
performed on his knees. Even for his spiritual 
reading he did not sit down . As he had, by the 
ingenious device of splitting the front of his trousers, 
bared his knees, it follows that he always knelt on 
his bare knees. Nor, as we have seen, .did he rest 
his arms or hands on anything when praying, but 

74 " 



H I S- PA S T S i M O R T I F I C A T I O N S 

knelt perfectly erect often for seven hours at a time 
in church on Sundays. 

His eyes he mortified by keeping them fixed on 
the 'ground when passing through the streets, and 
by not reading either newspapers or placards. The 
ordinary news of the day he ignored, so much so, 
that the anti-concription campaign of 1916-17 had 
gone on for six months before he heard 'of it from 
a friend. - 

How far all these fasts and mortifications were 
performed under spiritual direction we do not know 
as those v priests who could tell are dead. Father 
James Walsh, S.J., knew Talbot very well and, 
possibly, knew of his mode of life. The Right Rev. 
Monsignor Hickey, D.D., V.G., when President of 
Clonliffe College, also .was very well acquainted 
with him. Matt Talbot went frequently to Confes-. 
"sion to Clonliffe College, and Monsignor Hickey 
was in the habit of .visiting him in his room in 
18 Upper Rutland Street. This was verified in an 
unexpected manner after the first life appeared. 
Monsignor Hickey had been appointed parish priest 
vOf Haddington Road parish and one of the Vicars 
General of the Dublin diocese, a few years before 
Talbot's death: . He did not live long to enjoy his 
new position and died suddenly in 1924. Some 
three weeks before his death he was dining with a 
parishioner when the conversation turned on 
answers to prayer. Monsignor Hickey stated that 
when lie wanted a very particular favour he always 
got a poor old -man named Matt Talbot to pray for it 



L I F EOF MAT T TALBOT 

''.' . : /' ' ' . ' 

and that his prayers had never been refused. When 
the person in question had read the life of Matt 
Talbot the conversation with Monsignor Hickey 
came back to her memory and she communicated 
the incident to the present writer. 

Talbot was 1 very shy of speaking to priests, and 
Brother F., of St. Francis Xavier's Church, N states 
that he never disclosed his identity to the priests 
there but went in and out unobtrusively. Even with 
Brother F. he would only speak when addressed. 
The same statement holds good for the Franciscan 
Church, Merchant's Quay, as the spiritual director 
of the Third Order did not know him by name. 
This is not remarkable when it is remembered that 
in both, churches the men at their meetings filled 
the churches to their utmost capacity. Although 
Father M., the spiritual director of the sodality of 
the Immaculate Conception at St. Francis^Xavier's 
Church, could not recall him by name, when a'sked 
by the present writer, yet 'Matt Talbot was recalled 
to his memory by a very characteristic action of 
Talbot's which was related to Father M. by Mrs i 
Fylan, after the appearance of the first life. She 
asked Father M. if he remembered a man who had 
handed him a substantial sum of money in the 
confessional on a certain date. She knew the 
amount as she was in the habit of keeping, Matt' s. 
money, for him. and he had asked for 5 which he 
said he intended to give to Father M. for charity. 
Father M. then remembered a poor man asking -him 
to take some money for charity. Father M.-took it 

76 - : 



HIS FASTS & MORTIFICATIONS 

casually and then seeing 1 that it amounted to some 
pounds asked his penitent what he wished done 
with it. The latter told him to do, what he wished 
with it, and Father M. said, he -would give it to the 
poor. As he turned to inquire as to ifie identity of 
the donor the latter got up and left- the confessional 
at once." This occurred only a few weeks before 
Talbot' s death. Although he^ never revealed himself 
to Father M.. he had a very great lova fo,r him and 
spoke to the head of his section in the sodality of 
Father M. with sincere affection and respect. 

His action dn this and An other matters was typical 
of his very great humility. People who thought 
they knew Matt Talbot intimately were astonished 
to learn after his death of his chains, his fasts and 
the various other mortifications which he had suc- 
cessfully concealed from them. In fact, when he did 
reveaL any of them it was for a definite purpose 
affecting the person in whom he confided. He cer- 
tainly^ spoke openly of God amongst his friends and 
this, on one or two occasions, /led them to feel uneasy 
lest there was anything of self-complacency in his 
action. One very great personal friend stated that 
he once spoke to Matt Talbot on the danger of feel- 
ing any pride in his great spiritual gifts. Talbot 
listened very respectfully and then simply said that 
he could not feel pride in anything he had done 
when ne thought of the actions of the great saints. 
He was not hurt by the remark of his friend, and, 
indeed, afterwards referred to this conversation. 
The same friend gave an interesting note on 

';/-" .-"'. . 77. ' ' 



L I F E P M AT T T A L B O T 

* ' 

Talbot's mode of life which is worth quoting: 
"Those who read the smaller Life were puzzled 
" as well as amazed, that a poor fellow like Matt 
" could have set his mark so high and then con- 
" sistently wtfrked up to it. The explanation seemed 
", to .me. to lie in, his clear, logical, mind.. He : w,as 
"convinced that if the truths of Revelation, as 
" regards the. Incarnation and Redemption were 
" accepted as true, there should be no limit to our 
" service save the impossible. It was this view, in 
" my opinion, that urged him on to his., life of 
" extreme penance and enabled him to persevere 
"to. the end." 

This statement seems to the pr.esent writer to 
contain the ^rue explanation of Matt Talbot's whole 
life from the day of his conversion to his death. 
Neither the present writer, nor his correspondent, 
mean to convey that such, austerities as were 
practised by Matt Talbot are essential to true 
sanctity, nor, indeed, that they are the things which 
in Matt Talbot's life are most worthy of praise and 
exact imitation. A saint has been well described as 
one^ who, in order to please God, does his ordinary 
duties extraordinarily well. This definition was 
v fulfilled in every respect by Matt Talbot. . His life 
shows, apart from his extraordinary .penances and 
long hours of prayer, the. resistance to temptations, - 
which is the duty of everyone, . and the perfect 
fulfilment of the simple duties of his daily life which 
should also be our aim. . -The motive with which, 
he performed these duties made them" perfect, and 

, 78 ' 



. .. . . . 

HIS FASTS & MORTIFICATIONS 

in the end led him v to heights of sanctity which 
it is given to few to attain. If we cannot imitate 
him in his austerities we can, at least, look up to 
him with the admiration which lives such as his 
compel in all "men of good will. 



79 




CHAPTER VHL 

CIRCLE OF FRIENDS: HIS CHARITY. ' 

E may begin this Chapter with' a description 
of his personal appearance. He. was. below 
th"e middle height, of slight but" wiry build. 
His face was long, with slightly prominent cheek- 
bones, which had some colour in them; nose 
straight; eyes large and lustrous ^ with drooping 
lids; forehead high and temples rounded; 'head in 
-later life, bald except for a fringe of hair below his 
hat. His expression was serious and thoughtful 
and became very animated when he spoke on a 
subject which moved him to emotion, at which 
tinies he could show very great indignation. He 
walked along the streets rapidly with long strides' 
and a loose swinging gait, but quite simply and 
naturally, with his eyes- fixed on the ground, and 
an air of deep recollection. To those with whom 
he spoke he appeared a shrewd and practical man, 
full of commonsense. In his "conversation he was 
plain and blunt, but the description "rough- 
spoken " quoted in the original life brought several 
protests to the writer. These letters described him 
as very gentle and sweet-mannered, with ~a very 
sweet smile. The fact is that th'e word " blunt" 
would have better described him. He was blunt 
in his speech when occasion called for bluntness 
and, at tinies, hot-tempered and a little impatient 
if there was what he considered unreasonable delay; 

80 - 



TEACHING CATECHISM. 




(Copyright : by courtesy of Rev. Mother Xoalis. 
R.S.C.J.* Canada.) 

Matt would join her hands together and hold them in 
his own hands." 

[Facing page 80 




CHAPTER VHL 

CIRCLE OP FRIENDS: HIS CHARITY. - 

E may begin this Chapter with' a description 
of his personal appearance. He was below 
tlie middle height, of slight but wiry build. 
His face was long, with slightly prominent cheek- 
bones, which had some colour in them; nose 
straight; eyes large and lustrous, with drooping 
lids; -forehead high and temples rounded; head in 
-later life, bald except for a fringe of hair below his 
hat. His expression was serious and thoughtful 
and became very animated when he spoke on a 
subject which moved him to emotion, at which 
times he could show very great indignation. He 
walked along the streets rapidly with long strides 
and a loose swinging gait, but quite simply and 
naturally, with his eyes fixed on the ground, and 
an air of deep recollection. To those with whom 
he spoke he appeared a shrewd and practical man, 
full of commonsens.e. In his conversation he was 
plain and blunt, but the description " rough- 
spoken " quoted in the original life brought several 
protests to the writer. These letters described him 
as very gentle and sweet-mannered, with a very 
sweet smile. The fact is that tlie word " blunt " 
would have better described him. He was blunt 
in his speech when occasion called for bluntness 
and, at times, hot-tempered and a little impatient 
if there was what he considered unreasonable delay; 

80 



i'EACTTTNO CATECHISM. 




(Copyright: by courtesy of Rev. JfoUicr Xoalis. 
R.S.C.J.". Canada.) 

" Matt \vonld join her hands together and hold thorn in 

his own hands." 

[Facing page SO 



NOTE TO DALGAN PARK. 




Facsimile of the only letter Matt Talbot is known to have 

written. 



HIS CIRCLE OF FRIENDS: HIS CHARITY 

but his habitual manner was one of good humour 
and kindliness .towards all who met him. 

No one knew him intimately though many knew 
him either at work or in the Church. His penitential 
mode of life forbade close intimacies and his con- 
stant state of recollection and prayer made him 
avoid human, companionship except when the claims 
of family or of charity called for it. Thus he would 
spend a quiet hour, now and again, in his brother- 
in-law's house chatting on their personal 1 affairs, or 
he would visit, the home, of a friend who had a 
little library in order to borrow books. Many came 
to him for advice and all were received with kind- 
liness and advice was given or prayers promised 
according to the request of the visitor. Persons who 
had heard of his holiness used to write for prayers 
without disclosing their identity, and when the 
prayers were answered a letter of thanks was sent, 
often accompanied by a money offering which, as it 
could not be returned because the donor was un- 
known, -was given in charity. One of the foremen 
in Messrs. Martin's (E. C.) relates two- incidents 
which struck him at the time 'as somewhat remark- 
able because of the nature of the replies given by 
Matt Talbot to E. C.'s request for prayers - for 
persons who were ill. In 1922, E. C.'s wife was 
very ill and he was very worried, on her account. 
He spoke to Talbot and asked him to pray for her 
recovery. Talbot promised to do so and also got a 
novena of Masses offered up for her in Mount" St. 
Joseph's Abbey (Trappist) , Roscrea. He told E. C. 

81 



NOTE TO DALGAN PARK. 




Facsinwle of the only letter Matt Talbot is known to liavo 

written. 



HIS CIRCLE OF FRIENDS: HIS CHARITY 

but his habitual manner was one of good humour 
and kindliness towards all who met him. 

No one knew him intimately though many knew 
him either at work or in the Church. His penitential 
mode of life forbade close intimacies and his con- 
stant state of recollection and prayer made him 
avoid human, companionship except when the claims 
of family or of charity called for it. Thus he would 
spend a quiet hour, now and again, in his brother- 
in-law's house chatting on their personal affairs, or 
he would visit the home, of a friend who had a 
little library in order to borrow books. Many came 
to him for advice and all were received with kind- 
liness and advice was given or prayers promised 
according to the request of the visitor. Persons who 
had heard of his holiness used to write for prayers 
without disclosing their identity, and when the 
prayers were answered a letter of thanks was sent, 
often accompanied by a money offering which, as it 
could not be returned because the donor was un- 
known, was given in oharity. One of the foremen 
in Messrs. Martin's (E. C.) relates two- incidents 
which struck him at the time as somewhat remark- 
able because of the nature of the replies given by 
Matt Talbot to E. C.'s request for prayers -for 
persons who were ill. In 1922, E. C.'s wife was 
very ill and he was very worried, on her account. 
He spoke to Talbot and asked him to pray for hei* 
recovery. Talbot promised to do so and also got a 
novena of Masses offered up for her in Mount' St. 
Joseph's Abbey (Trappist), Roscrea. He told E. C. 

81 



LIFE OF MATT TALBOT 

not to worry as she would recover, and in fact she 
was. quite well in three weeks. What struck E., C. 
was Matt Talbot's firm statement that E. C.'s wife 
would recover and the contrast it made to the reply 
to a" similar request for prayers for the recovery of 
E. C.'s brother-in-law, who had met with an acci- 
dent on his farm, and who, after a long illness, was 
removed to a Dublin Hospital for an operation. 
This man had several children and his friends were 
very anxious that- he should recover. When Matt 
Talbot was asked to pray for his recovery he 
promised to do so but always told E.G. that he 
should be reconciled to God's Will and never held 
out any hopes that his prayers would be answered. 
Although E. C. and Talbot spoke of the patient on 
many occasions, the burden of Talbot's conversation 
was always the same resignation. The patient 
died after a few weeks. ~ 

Another foreman (G.) had a daughter who at the 
age of 15 years was dying of tuberculosis.- As her 
name was Teresa, Matt constantly enquired about 
her because of his own devotion to St. Teresa. He 
eventually called to see her, and during the visit 
spoke to her about the Saints. She was very anxious 
to find out whether she was dying and, as her father 
gave evasive answers to her questions, she asked. 
Talbot if she would recover. Talbot hated an 'un- 
truth; but as he felt that he could nof tell the girl 
that she was dying, preferring to allow" her father 
to choose his own time for doing so, he got out of 
the dilemma by saying " He had heard it" laid 

.82 



HIS CIRCLE OF FRIENDS : HIS CHARITY 

down that the patient was the best judge-of that." 
In one of -his books of devotion is a note of her ddath 
and age. 

Another friend (J. T.) attributed his restoration 
do health to Matt Talfoot's prayers. J. T. was suffer- 
ing from a gastric ulcer and was advised to under- 
go an operation, which he declined. He .decided to 
consult Talbot and went to 18 Upper Rutland Street 
about 1.30 p.m. on a Sunday so as to meet Talbot 
coming from Mass. He told Talbot that he was 
very ill and asked his advice. Talbot replied, " Go 
to the same Doctor that I do. I never went to any 
except one. Go to Him." J. T. said he would, 
as he knew Talbot meant God, Talbot promised, to 
pray for him and told him. to pray with confidence 
and to tell him. how he was getting on. J. T. went 
every Sunday to the Passionist Church at Mount 
Argus to be touched with a relic and whenever he 
met Talbot, the latter always told him to continue 
praying. After some time J.T. completely recovered 
from his illness and never had any further gastric 
trouble, J. T. was in the habit of consulting Talbot 
on many matters and had the utmost confidence 
in his advice and prayers. 

:.I. G., who used to meet Talbob at early Mass and 
whose account of the chains. has been already told, 
used occasionally to miss the 6.15 a.m. Mass if the 
weather .was very bad and would, in such cases, 
go to- a later "Mass. Talbot did not approve of 
this "at all and replied to J. G.'s excuses, " It is 
constancy God wants." During the strike of 1913, 

.83 



LIFE OF. MATT- TALBOT 

J. G., with very considerable difficulty, persuaded 
Talbot to accept loans of money, amounting in all 
to about 5. These sums were repaid at the r.ate 
of five shillings a week when work was resumed. 
Some years afterwards J. G. lost his regular work 
because of the decline in his trade owing to the 
Great War, and Talbot gladly lent him money 
which was repaid when J. G. got temporary 
employment. 

As Talbot lent quite a considerable amount of 
money at various times to fellow-workers who had 
families, it is interesting to learn his reason for 
lending rather than giving money in such cases. 
One very old friend, the M. D. already spoken of, 
who had been at school with Talbot and who 
worked in Martin's from 1870 to 1920, constantly got 
the loan of money for clothes for his children. He 
knew that Matt Talbot never refused a loan where 
there was genuine need and where the money was 
not wanted for drink, but Matt told his old friend 
thatf it was better to make the men pay it back by 
instalments and thus prevent them spending the 
amount in the public-house. Those who tried to 
tell a piteous tale on a Monday morning, after 
having spent their wages in drink during the week- 
end, got a very vigorous refusal of their requests. 

Although he was shy of women's society, he had 
several women acquaintances whom he had met 
at thfi Church or in. connection: with the various 
sodalities of which he was a member. One of these 
had a brother Jiome from the~ United States on "a 

84 



HIS CIRCLE OP FRIENDS: HIS CHARITY 
visit, and when he returned to America, she told 
Talbot that she was very lonely. His answer was, 
"Lonely! How could you be lonely? That's 
nonsense, and Our Lord in His Tabernacle." The 
reproof brought her more consolation than any form 
of sympathy could have done. 

Some of Matt Talbot' s women friends observed 
that he was ajways poorly dressed, and went to 
Father James Walsh, S.J., about it. They offered 
to buy clothes for Talbot and asked Father Walsh 
to undertake the delicate task of speaking to Matt 
about the matter. Father Walsh sent for Matt 
after the meeting of the Sodality in St. Francis 
Xavier's and the following conversation took place : 

"Talbot, you have very bad clothes." "Yes, 
Father," Matt replied, "I promised God I would 

never wear good ones." " Go down to- ," 

said Father Walsh, "and get a suit." "I'll do no 
such thing," was the reply, ."I promised God I 
would never wear good clothes." "Well," said 
Father Walsh, "God has sent them to you. Get 
the^n." "If God sent them I'll take them," replied 
Matt, and without further ado he got the clothes. 
Another person who gave him a good suit was not 
so lucky, as Matt gave it away. He usually got his 
clothes from a gentleman who was a very great 
personal friend, and who gave him his own old 

clothes. In fact Matt had only one suit for Sunday or 
weekday, or, as he said, he had no "Sunday 

clothes." 

The lady wjip told the story of her conversation 
with 'Matt Talbot in his room on a Saturday evening 

85 



LIFE OF MATT TALBOT 

relates that when Talbot was in bad health and very 
poor she got five shillings for charity from .a man 
who asked for prayers for a special intention in 
return. This lady asked Talbot to take the money, 
as he wanted it. He took it, thanked the lady 
and promised to pray for. the intention, which was 
granted in a most unequivocal manner. Amongst 
his friends was one who, though a lifelong total 
abstainer, had for 30 years been absent from the 
Sacraments. During a conversation with Matt 
Talbot on the question of temperance, the latter 
suddenly asked him about, his soul. Matt spoke 
seriously of the danger his friend ran of dying with- 
out the Sacraments and, eventually, ' made an 
appointment with him for the 'following Saturday 
afternoon, when Matt brought him to Holy Gross 
College, Glonliffe, and after he had made his Con- 
fession introduced, him to the Sodality of the Imma- 
culate Conception, of which he subsequently became 
a very prominent member. He was,. several years 
later, killed by a fall into the hold qf a ship on 
which he was working. He often spoke to Matt 
Talbot with gratitude for having, brought him back 
to' the Sacraments. . 

These little stories could be multiplied indefinitely 
but the. few given will show that in all his dealings 
with his fellowmen, Matt Talbot was actuated by 
Christian Charity. His actual money" gifts to various 
charities and to the poor sound incredible;, yet 
the writer has taken every possible pains to verify 
the statements made. When Talbot earned less 

86 



HIS CIRCLE OF FRIENDS: HIS CHARITY 

than.a, pound a week he lived on six shillings, in- 
cluding his rent. . He was scrupulous in fulfilling 
his duty and for that reason he always allowed 
whichever of his sisters looked after his mother 
and himself a few shillings a week for their trouble; 
but everything else was given away. He had a 
habit in his later years of placing on the chair under 
one of his books, the housekeeping money for the 
week. On Friday he told his sister to take it. At 
times he gave her his wages to keep for him, 
especially if he was gathering up a sum for a special 
purpose. When it had reached the requisite alnount 
he got it from her and disposed of it. We have seen 
that he gave a sum of five pounds to Father M. in 
the confessional. This was no isolated donation, as 
Brother F. relates that he often saw Matt Talbot 
hand sums of money in the corridor of the church to 
Father M. merely stating that they were for charity. 
One woman who was collecting for the Shrine of 
the Little Flower,, in the .Carmelite Church, 
Clarendon Street, told him about it and got a pound. 
She asked him to give it himself but he excused 
himself on the ground that he did not understand 
these things and asked her to hand in the contribu- 
tion. Several collectors from religious houses knew 
him well and got regular subscriptions from him. 

In the . original life a statement was made that 
Matt Talbot had contributed 3Q a year towards the 
Mayndoth Mission to China. It was also stated 
that it was not possible to verify this statement in 
full because the Card Index of the Mission only 

87 



L I F E F M A T T T A L B T 

started in September, 1921. The foundations for 
the original statement were two-fold : Firstly, Mrs. 
Fylan, Talbot's sister, was told by him that "he 
had finished three priests and was at the fourth." 
Secondly : he told his foreman (G.) that he had 
given 30 a year towards the Chinese Mission. 
The foreman remembered the conversation well 
because it was caused by Matt Talbot stating that 
the foreman, who had a good salary, should give 
more to the Mission than he had done, when he, 
Talbot, a poor labouring man, gave 30 a year. 
Inquiry from the authorities of the Maynooth 
Mission to China brought the following letter: 
" I have gone thoroughly into the question of the 
"amount of money he sent here, but I am afraid 
" you will not find the results quite satisfactory from 
" the point of view you have mentioned namely, 
" of verifying the statement about his having edu- 
" cated three students. We have gone through all the 
" letters in the Dublin file and have picked out those 
" written here by Mr. K. This man it was who sent 
"on all Talbot's donations with the exception of 
" 1 10s. Od. sent by Talbot himself in December, 
" 1924 1 being his own gift and 10s. from his 
"sister. This is the only letter we ever received 
" from him : . , , . 

" 'Matt Talbot has done no work for the 

T past 18 months. . 

. " 'I don't think I will work any more. -Here 

" ' is - one pound from me - and ten shillings 
'from my sister,'. < 



HIS CIRCLE OF FRIENDS: HIS CHARITY 

" The total sum we received from Talbot 

" through K. is 40, to which you should add the 

" 1 10s. Od. mentioned above, or 1 leaving out 

" his sister's share. I have no hesitation in saying 

"that these figures are as accurate as we can 

" possibly arrive at. He began to contribute to- 

" wards this Mission in December, 1920, and I 

"have no doubt we have here the first letters in 

" which K. mentions Talbot. The tone of them 

" implies this for he introduces him to us ' an ex- 

" ' tremely pious holy man who, when not en- 

-' ' gaged in work, spends his time in prayer.' 

" The next letter, February, 1921, speaks of Talbot 

"in the same manner, buf afterwards K. takes 

"it for granted that wt* know all about our 

" benefactor." With this letter was enclosed a 

sheet of paper giving the various sums which were 

identified by them as coming . from Talbot : 

December, 1920, 2. During the year 1921, 23 in 

8 different sums. During 1922, 11 in 7 different 

sums. In 1923 to the date of his illness in June, 4 

in four sums and then December, 1924, 1 and 10/- 

sent directly by himself. In January, 1923, a sum 

of 5 was sent on Matt Talbot's behalf by his 

brother-in-law, W. Fylan, but as the letter did not 

state that it was sent on behalf of Matt Talbot, 5 

was credited to W. Fylan. Mrs. Fylan, Matt 

Talbot's sister, still maintains that Matt had told her 

he had finished three priests and was at the fourth, 

but as we cannot get any further evidence we must 

assume either that Talfeot had been mistaken in the 

89 



ii;i;jp..E... Q^F MA T:T T.A;L;B o T 



sums he. sent or had,sent .money, anonymously. The 
pound. iseht in.. 'December,- 1924,. was almost the. last 
of .his little savings: as. he always kept a little money 
with .Mrs. Fy Ian for any sudden emergency. A 
few of his friends insisted on his accepting gifts of 
money from .them during his long illness and the 
i : 10s. was taken from these sums. Mrs. Fylan 
says that he paid the 10s. for her as compensation 
for her attention to him. His reason for sending 
it to the Maynooth Mission was because he had got 
a letter from the Bursar stating that they had missed 
his generous gifts for some time. Hence his letter 
in reply informing them of. his illness and unem- 
ployment. '. , 

One of the foremen (E. G.) relates an incident 
which occurred in 1921 or 1922. A South of Ireland 
priest came to the Castle Forbes' Yard and asked 
permission to make a collection amongst the. me'n. 
E. G. told him to put up a notice stating the day he 
would collect, namely, pay-day, so that the men 
might be prepared for his visit. The men were 
always generous in such cases and gave a shilling 
each,.or more, quite willingly. When the priest hap! 
finished the collection E. G.. told him that there 
was another man at the end of the yard and directed 
him to go there and ask for Matt Talbot. The priest 
did so and on his return remarked to E.. G. that 
he. had .never met so generous a man and that he 
had scrupled taking what Talbot gave him. E. C. 
asked how much that was and the priest replied, 
"All he had about him." As Talbot had just 

90 



HIS CIRCLE OF FRIENDS: HIS .CHARITY 

drawn his week's wages, which in those years were 
3 : 1 : 6 a week, it -would appear that the greater 
portion of this sum was given for the Church for 
which the collection, was. being made. The same 
priest called again in 1923 and asked about Talbot, 
who was then ill in the Mater Misericordiae Hos- 
pital. Having got. his address the priest promised 
to call on him. ....-.._.-...'. 

The only change which .the increase of wages 
made in Matt Talbot's. circumstances was to increase 
his gifts to charity. Ten shillings a -week, during 
the Great War. and afterwards, supplied all his 
wants r for food, rent, and subscriptions to his trade 
union, including the. premium for his burial ex- 
penses. It was no wonder that one of his old fellow- 
workers, said, "The men loved him"; adding, 
" Matt" had no use for money." 



91 




CHAPTER IX. 

ILLNESS AND CLOSING YEARS. 

ITHERTO Matt Talbot's sufferings had been, 
self-imposed. 'We have seen how severe were 
the mortifications to which he subjected his 
body; but that body was strong, though small, and 
his iron will bent it to his bidding. The gathering 
years were telling their tale, yet the daily round 
went on unceasingly; the heart beat a little faster 
when the shoulders bent to the load of timber, and 
the breath came a little quicker. At length Nature 
rebelled, and he who during a long life had really 
never known illness now found himself suddenly 
unable to carry on his work. For two years more 
he was to live and suffer. He who was so active 
was to be idle all the day long, he who had im- 
posed so many sufferings on himself was to accept 
sufferings from the hands of the Lord he had so 
faithfully served. The great trial which came to 
many saints came to him in the destruction of his 
own activities and the patient acceptance of the 
Will of God in his regard. Feeling very ill, he 
spoke to a friend who procured him a letter of in- 
troduction to an eminent surgeon attached to the 
Mater Misericordiae Hospital, Dublin, and armed 
with this letter, having humbly removed his chains 
le_st they should reveal his life of penance, he 
presented himself at the hospital. The examining 

92 



ri/LNES S AND CLOSING YEARS 

doctor diagnosed heart trouble and admitted him 
at once to the medical ward of the hospital on June- 
18th, 1923. This beautiful hospital, which was 
founded in the year 1861, stands in a commanding 
position on the north side of the City of Dublin. 
It ; contains over 350 beds and is in charge of the 
Irish Sisters of Mercy. The physician, in whose 
care he was, writes, " When Talbot first came 
" to the hospital we had no electrocardiograph and 
" therefore it would be impossible to give an exact 
" diagnosis of his condition. He was suffering 
"from a cardiac arrhythmia which I believe to be 
" auricular flutter. We have cured several cases 
",of this condition within the past few years, but 
" when Matt Talbot was coming to the hospital 
" the condition was neither well understood nor had 
" we the means of treatment that we have now at 
" our disposal. 1 ' 

This letter refers to Matt Talbot's first stay in 
the Mater Hospital. The electrocardiograph was in 
the hospital r the second time he was there, as will 
be seen by the statement of Sister Dolores, quoted 
later on. During his first stay he was changed 
from one ward to another as it is customary during 
the summer to have the hospital thoroughly cleaned 
ward by ward. This fact has made it difficult to 
obtain particulars of his first stay, but one fact is 
recorded by the Sister of Mercy in charge of the 
ward which he occupied when he was removed 
from the upper to the lower -floor, namely, that he 
spent all his spare time before the Blessed Sacra- 

f 93 



L I F E F M AT T T A L B T 

ment in the chapel of the hospital. The records 
show that he had received" the last Sacraments on 
June 21st and was discharge'd from hospital on July 
17th. He continued to attend the hospital as an out- 
patient until August 17th, when lie resumed work 
at Messrs. Martin's. He was unable to continue his 
employment and left again on the 3rd September. 
He was re-admitted to the Mater Hospital on October 
1st, when he was placed under the care of Sister 
Dolores. Her statement is of great interest and is 
given in full : 

"I was Sister in charge of St. Laurence's Ward 
" of the Mater Misericordiae Hospital when Matt 
" Talbot returned there on October 1st, 1923. 
" He was suffering from heart disease and was put 
" to bed at onee^ He remained in bed nearly all the 
" time he was in Hospital, viz.. from 1st October, 
" 1923, to the middle of November. He did not 
" then wear chains. He was very quiet and retiring 
" and had little to say to anyone. He had a very 
" sweet smile, and was always very gracious in his 
" manner. He took whatever food was given to 
" him, and made no comment nor complaint. It 
"was noticed that he did riot 'use butter. His 
"sisters and a friend, Mrs. B., brought him eggs 
" arid fruit. These he handed to me without any 
"remark. I was at liberty to use thein as I liked, 
"but! gave them to him with his meals. He got 
" very ill and I had him aiiointed. I sentHfor his 
" sisters, and told them he was dyingf, and that it 
"was as well he should die then, he was so well 

Si 



I L L NESS AND G L OS I N G Y E A R S 

" prepared. He seemed to be dying, as he was 
" scarcely breathing after 'having received the /last 
" Sacraments." I" now think he may have been in a 
' state 'of profound recollection. His extraordinary 
" calmness at the time struck me as remarkable. 1 
" said all the prayers for the dying. He got over 
" this attack, and two days later was able to go 
"down stairs to have a cardiograph taken. He 
"then returned to bed and after a few days more 
" was allowed up. The first day he was allowed 
"up he disappeared and could not be found in 
" the hospital or in the grounds. I thought he had 
" gone out and had got an attack in' the street. 
" He was eventually discovered in a corner of the 
" chape] praying. When I Complained to him that 
"he had given all of us a great fright, he replied 
" with his usual quiet smile, ' I have thanked the 
" ' nurses and the doctors, and I thought it only 
" ' right to thank the great Healer.' These words 
" made such an impression on me that I have since 
" told the patients to go to the chapel to thank God 
"for their recovery. "At the various times he was 
" in hospital, the Sisters noticed his great look of 
" recollection in the chapel- and observed that he 
" never -used a prayer-book. He was in the chapel 
" every evening when the Sisters recited the Office. 
"He always was to be seen in a remote corner 
".kneeling quite erect. He never 1 , asked . for any 
"- privileges. He" received Holyr'Communiori "every 
" Monday. "On other mornings, i'f any patient was 
"to receive Holy Communion, I asked him if he 

95 



L IF E OP M A T T T A L B T 

" would like to receive also. He always said ' Yes ' 
"but he never asked for It. himself; He did not 
" speak of religious matters, with the Nuns. Some 
41 patients like to discuss religion, but Matt Talbot 
" never showed by his conduct that he was ariy- 
" thing more than a sweet-natured, holy, old man. 
" Knowing now the life of austerity which he led, 
" it is obvious to me that he sought to conceal his 
" holiness froni all around him." 

On his discharge, he was 'unable to resume work 
and attended the hospital dispensary at regular in- 
tervals. It is possible to trace the course of his 
illness by the payments he received under 1 the 
National Health Insurance Acts from his approved 
society, the builders' labourers' section of the Irish 
Transport and General Workers' Union./ On 26th 
November, 1923, he had drawn 26 weeks sickness 
benefit at the rate of 15/- a week. From the 26th 
November he became entitled to disablement benefit 
at a lower rate, namely 7s. 6d. a week for the 
entire period of the disability. In November, there- 
fore, he found himself ill and unable to work, and 
with his only income a sum of 7s. 6d. a week to pay 
for his 'food, lodging, fire arid light. His condition 
was known to his well-to-do friends and some, with 
very great difficulty, persuaded him to accept gifts 
of money. 

He found it difficult at times to attend the 6.15 
a.m. Mass, but whenever possible he was "at his 
place in the church, and on his return, having par- 
taken of his meagre breakfast, he returned to the 

96 




9G 



LIFE OF MATT T A L B T 

" would like to receive also. He always said ' Yes ' 
" but he never asked for It himself. He did not 
" speak of religious matters, with the Nuns. Some 
" patients like to discuss religion, but Matt Talbot 
" never showed by his conduct that he was any- 
" thing more than a sweet-natureel, holy, old man. 
" Knowing now the life of austerity which he led, 
" it is obvious to me that he sought to conceal his 
" holiness from all around him." 

On his discharge, he was unable to resume work 
and attended the hospital dispensary at regular in- 
tervals. It is possible to trace the course of his 
illness by the payments he received under the 
National Health Insurance Acts from his approved 
society, the builders' labourers' section of the Irish 
Transport and General Workers' Union. On 26th 
November, 1923, he had drawn 26 weeks sickness 
benefit at the rate of 15 /- a week. From the 26th 
November he became entitled to disablement benefit 
at a lower rate, namely 7s. 6d. a week for the 
entire period of the disability. In November, there- 
fore, he found himself ill and unable to work, and 
with his only income a sum of 7s. 6d. a week to pay 
for his food, lodging, fire arid light. His condition 
was known to his well-to-do friends and some, with 
very great difficulty, persuaded him to accept gifts 
of money. 

He found it difficult at times to attend the 6. 15 
a.m. Mass, but whenever possible he was at his 
place in the church, and on his return, having par- 
taken of his meagre breakfast, he returned to the 

96 




[Fucinu IIIHJC DO 



AT GLASNEVIN 




' ; . . .where in a humble grave . 

the body oi ! Matt Talbot awaits the Jlesnrrection." 



ILLNESS AND CLOSING YEARS 

church for 11 a.m. Mass, remaining in prayer, if he 
felt able, until 1 p.m. He suffered very severely 
during this period. His sister, Mrs. Pylan, who 
came in the morning to see him, relates that she 
often found him lying exhausted on his plank bed 
unable to speak owing to the exertion of walking 
from the church to his home. Though he could not 
speak she observed that he continued to pray. 
When he had taken some food and felt somewhat 
relieved, he went out again to the later Mass. 
Knowing. that he might die suddenly, Mrs. Fylan on 
one occasion asked him if she would come back later 
and remain with him. His answer was, " What 

Since this book was first published, I have got in touch 
with Mr. John Mtilvany, who, about five years before Matt 
Talbot's death came to live in the same tenement, occupying 
the room which adjoined the hall-door, which was usually 
closed. He stated that he frequently opened the door for 
visitors to Matt Talbot, and in that way washable to supply 
further interesting information. 

Mr. Mulvany at first regarded Matt Talbot as an old man 
who lived the life of a recluse. He frankly admitted that' at 
first he thought him an old miser, but after some conversa- 
tions with Matt's visitors, he got to know him as a man of 
prayer. He related one very interesting story of a girl who 
knocked at the door early one evening, enquiring for Matt 
Talbot. She stated that she was out of work and she wanted 
his prayers that she might secure a job. She saw Matt, and 
went away immediately. Within a week she called again in 
glowing spirits, and told Mr. Mulvany that Matt's prayers 
had secured her request. 

T questioned Mr. Mulvany regarding his last conversation 
with Matt Talbot, and he made the following statement : 

" On Trinity Sunday I met Matt Talbot at the halldoor 
about 8.30 a.m. I asked him how he was, and he replied 
that he was feeling weak. I said that he ought not to have 
gone back to work, and he said that he had felt all right 
until that morning. He went upstairs, and I remained 
about half-an-hour at the hall-door. He came downstairs 
and he looked very weak. I remarked that he ought not to 
go out until he had rested himself." 

97 



AT GLASNEVIN 




'' . . . .where in u humble grave. 

the body of Matt Talbot awaits the .Resurrection.' 



1 L L N E S S A N D C L SING Y E A R S 

church for 11 a.m. Mass, remaining in prayer, if he 
felt able, until 1 p.m. He suffered very severely 
during this period. His sister, Mrs. Fylan, who 
came in the morning to see him, relates that she 
often found him lying exhausted on his plank bed 
unable to speak owing to the exertion of walking 
from the church to his home. Though he could not 
speak she observed that he continued to pray. 
When he had taken some food and felt somewhat 
relieved, he went out again to the later Mass. 
Knowing that he might die suddenly, Mrs. Fylan on 
one occasion asked him if she would come back later 
and remain with him. His answer was, " What 

Since this book was first published, I have got in touch 
with Mr. John Mulvany, who, about five years before Matt 
Talbot's death came to live in the same tenement, occupying 
the room which adjoined the hall-door, which was usually 
closed. He stated that he frequently opened the door for 
visitors to Matt Talbot, and in that way was able to supply 
further interesting information. 

Mr. Mulvany at first regarded Matt Talbot as an old man 
who lived the life of a recluse. He frankly admitted that at 
first he thought him an old miser, but after some conversa- 
tions with Matt's visitors, he got to know him as a man of 
prayer. He related one very interesting story of a girl who 
knocked at the door early one evening, enquiring for Matt 
Talbot. She stated that she was out of work and she wanted 
his prayers that she might secure a job. She saw Matt, and 
went away immediately. Within a week she called again in 
glowing spirits, and told Mr. Mulvany that Matt's prayers 
had secured her request. 

T questioned Mr. Mulvany regarding his last conversation 
with Matt Talbot, and he made the following statement: 

" On Trinity Sunday T met Matt Talbot at the hnllifoor 
about 8. HO 'a.m. T asked him how he was, and he replied 
that he was feeling weak. I said that he ought not to have 
gone back to work, and he said that he had felt all right 
until that morning. He went upstairs, and I remained 
about half-an-hour at the hall-door. He came downstairs 
and he looked very weak. I remarked that he ought not to 
go out until he had rested himself." 

97 



LIFE OF MATT TALBOT 

e;ood could you do? If I die here I shall have Jesus 
and Mary with me." He "resumed his chains, as 
Mrs. Fylan testifies, and continued, so far as his 
broken health allowed, his regular fasts and vigils, 
but there were intervals when he could only move 
about. Through it all he made no complaint beyond 
regretting his enforced idleness. In April, 1925, he 
felt that he could resume work and went back to 
his old post at Castle Forbes. He looked broken and 
ill but he continued to do his day's work in the yard 
as usual. As time went on he seemed to recover, 
and on the very day before his death he 'told the 
foreman that he felt as well as ever. He was 
able to go out to an early Mass on Trinity Sunday, 
June 7th, 1925, and returned to breakfast as was 
then his habit, leaving his home for the last time 
after 9 a.m. to, -go to St. Saviour's Dominican Church, 
a walk of from 15 to 20 minutes, via Mountjoy 
Square, Gardiner's Row, Parnell Square, Granby 
Row, into Granby Lane, which leads to Dominick 
Street, where the church stands. There is a foot- 
path on the left-hand side of Granby Lane going 
towards the church, and on the right, about half 
way down, is a general store kept by Mrs. Anne 
Keogh. Matt Talbot was passing along the foot- 
path, when Mrs. Keogh, coming out of the doorway 
adjoining her store, saw him fall. She called her 
son and both ran over to where he lay, lifted him 
and carried him to the hall door beside the store 
from which she had come, intending to bring. him 
into the store. Seeing that he was very pale arid 

98 



ILLNESS AND C L 0' S I N G YEARS 

unable to speak, she entered the shop to get some 
water, which she brought out. Then lifting his 
head to give him a drink, she realised that it was 
not a faintness but that he was dying. As she put 
the cup of water to his lips she said, " My poor 
fellow, you are going to Heaven." Matt Talbot 
opened his eyes and stared at her very earnestly, 
but did not speak. He then laid his head down, and 
as she withdrew her hand from under it, he died. 

A man who was returning from the church came 
over to where Matt Talbot lay and blessed him with 
the crucifix. Father Walsh, O.P., came from the 
church, and seeing that he was dead, knelt in the 
lane and recited prayers. Later on the Corporation 
ambulance arrived and the body was removed 
to the mortuary attached to Jervis Street Hospital 
(Sisters of Mercy), which was close by. " Here, 
later on in the morning, Sister Ignatius, Sister of 
Mercy, came with a nurse and the hospital porters 
to prepare the body for burial. As Sister Ignatius 
was. cutting away the clothes the scissors struck 
something hard, which, on further investigation, 
proved to be the chains / which bound the body 
around the waist. With reverence, not unmixed 
with awe, they removed the chains and ropes and 
the big beads with its crucifix which always rested 
against his heart. The chains were rusty but the 
body was scrupulously clean. Then dressing the 
body in the brown habit of St. Francis, they placed 
it in the coffin with the chains, ropes and medals. 

Lest there should be any question hereafter as 

99 



LIFE OP MATT TALBOT 

to the class of chain found on the body, it is well 
to mention that Mrs. Fylan possesses a new chain 
which she had bought for Matt Talbot to replace 
the one found on him, as he was in the habit of 
changing the chains when they became very rusty. 
This chain is not a cart chain but resembles a strong 
dog chain with a hook at one end and a ring at the 
other. Those who removed the chains from the 
body thought that the larger chain was a trace for 
a cart. The point is a very small one, but it is 
mentioned for the sake of accuracy. < 

It was not considered necessary to hold an inquest, 
and on Wednesday, June 10th, the body was re- 
moved to the Church of St. Francis Xavier, Upper 
Gardiner Street, so often mentioned in this book, 
and from there the funeral took place on Corpus 
Christi, June llth, 1925, to the Glasnevin Cemetery, 
where in a humble grave in which no one had ever 
been buried, the body of Matt Talbot awaits the 
Resurrection. 



100 



CHAPTER X. 

THE GROWING CULTUS. 

As stated in the introduction, the first Life of 
Matt Talbot appeared in the second week in the 
Lent of 1926. At once devotion to him spread and 
favours were sought through his intercession. 
Some extracts from letters which have been received 
since the publication of the last edition are here 
appended. 

The Rev. Mother of a large community of the 
Sister of Mercy, in Ireland, writes 

Two Sisters of this Community were so seriously 
ill that the physicians entertained but little hope of 
their recovery. The entire community recited the 
prayer for the Canonization of Matt Talbot for about 
a month, asking Almighty God to honour His 
humble servant by the cure of these two Sisters. 
At the end of that time both were able to resume 
their duties, much to the astonishment and contrary 
to the expectations of the two Doctors who had 
attended them, 

A Sister of St. Louis writes 

I have been suffering for some months with a 
stone in, the kidney, and promised Our Lady of 
Lourdes and Matt Talbot to have it published if I 
got well again without an operation. I did avoid 
the operation and am now quite well again. I wish 
now to fulfil my promise. 

101 



LIFE OP MATT TALBOT 

A District Nurse (Co. Dublin) writes 
Two years ago a growth developed in my neck 
and gave me great trouble. I consulted a Dublin 
specialist, who told me I was a bad case and^the 
only cure was an operation, which I dreaded. I 
began a novena to Matt Talbot, through Our Blessed 
Lady, for the intention that if it was God's Will I 
would not have to 1 go under any operation. I am 
perfectly cured, thanks to the All-Loving Lord,. Our 
Blessed Lady and Matt Talbot. ...... 

Mrs. McG. .(Co. Cork) writes 
I travelled to Dublin to visit my sister, S. McD., 
without knowing that she-was ill. I found her in 
most awful agony. She had been .suffering for 
about six weeks, with a clot of blood at the ankle, 
which seemed almost ready to burst. I. told her 
to pray for patience and to suffer on, and was really 
convinced that. Our Lord was going to. take her. 
Next day. (Sunday), without even a thought of the 
holy man, I was .handed a relic of .Matt Talbot at 
Gardiner Street Church. I gave it to my sister on 
returning to her house. She received it reverently 
and placed it on her foot, but the pain grew worse 
and confirmed my belief that she was going to die. 
Next morning she was worse than ever. I went to 
Mass but on my return found my sister so excited; 
walking about without pains and th swelling com- 
pletely gone. 

J.S. and his wife testify as follows 
.Their daughter before her twelfth year had had 
three attacks of pneumonia. In her thirteenth year, 

102 



THE GROWING CULTUS 

following an operation for adenoids and tonsils, slie 
became seriously ill. A second operation, for 
middle ear abscess, was then performed, followed 
soon afterwards by, an operation for mastoid. The 
operations were carried out by eminent Dublin 
specialists, the first on July 1st, the second about' 18 
days later and the third on July 22nd, 1933. 
General, septicemia and a fourth attack of pneumonia 
developed. A fourth specialist was called in for 
consultation and pronounced the chill's condition as 
" absolutely hopeless "; he had never, in his ex- 
perience, seen a recovery in a similar case. J.S. 
then had relics of Matt Talbot applied to the sick 
child and he and his wife and their friends started 
a novena,, and from that time her condition improved 
steadily, so that at the end of six months she was 
able to return to school. 

M.B.O'L., a trained nurse, writes as follows 
A shopkeeper toldi me he was drinking very 
heavily and asked if I could do anything to cure 
him. I gave him general advice and we parted. 
He went straight into the public house. Less than 
a week later, I had some business in his shop and 
went in. I saw him standing inside the counter 
and he was obviously in a very bad state from 
drink. His. sister was present. He said someone 
was stabbing him with knives and that he would 
be dead before morning. He. said he would kill 
.the other fellow first and that he would go for a 
bottle of whiskey and would drink it down and that 
he would not care then what happened to him as he 

103 



LIFE OF MATT TALBOT 

could hot keep away from drink. He then said; 
" Can you not do anything for me? "I said, " I 
gave you my advice a few days ago ". His sister 
then said, "That was of no effect.' He is worse 
than ever ". It then came into my mind that I 
would try Matt Talbot. I asked for some paper, as 
I had not the printed prayer for Matt Talbot' s 
beatification with me. The drunkard tried to get 
out but was kept back by his sister and by me. I 
then, from memory, wrote out the prayer for the 
beatification and asked him to read it. He sat down 
and read the prayer. I had first read it for him 
and told him to say it morning and evening. I am 
aware that from the moment he read the prayer he 
has not tasted spirituous drink. He calls to see me 
at the hospital to report how he is going on and 
also wrote to me to thank me for what I had done 
for him. I have often nursed cases of delirium 
tremens and believe that he was bordering on 
delirium, as he was undoubtedly suffering from de- 
lusions. He is prepared to make a statement to this 
effect. 

A German Jesuit, writing from Valkenburg, 
says : 

A boy, six years. old, was confined to bed for 
several days with a dangerous skull-fracture. He 
was entirely unconscious. The physician gave no 
hope. At noon I handed the relic (a fragment of 
Matt's wooden pillow) to the sister in order to 
attach it to the boy's shirt. At three o'clock, when 
his, mother approached his bed, he opened his eyes, 

i.Q4 



THE GROWING CULTUS 

saying : " Mother, I should like a cup of coffee ". 
He was quite recovered. 

A country woman, afflicted with the gout so badly 
that she was unable to work, regained health 
through a novena and the same relic. In thanks- 
giving she is sending 200 marks every yean for poor 
students. 

A seminarist was many months in bed on account 
of articular rheumatism. After a novena he also 
recovered his health. 

j 

J.P.M., (Donchester, Mass., U.S.A.) testifies that 
After reading Matt Talbot's " Life " he gave it 
to his brother, a young civil engineer, who had been 
unemployed. The latter, too, read the book and 
both began a noyena. " Our novena commenced 
on July 20th and on the morning of the last day, 
i.e., 28th, my brother obtained, employment for a 
month, with .the. hope of permanent employment." 



106 



Prayer for the Canonization 
of Matthew Talbot 



O Jesus, true friend of the 
humble worker, Thou hast given 
us in Thy servant, Matthew, -a 
wonderful example of victory 
over vice, a model of penance 
and of love for Thy Holy 
Eucharist, grant, we beseech 
Thee, that we Thy servants 
may overcome all our wicked 
passions and sanctify our lives 
with penance and love like his. 

And if it be in accordance 
with Thy adorable designs that 
Thy pious servant should be 
glorified by the Church, deign 
to manifest by Thy heavenly 
favours the power he enjoys in 
Thy sight. Who livest and 
reignest for ever and ever. 

Amen. 

100 days' indulgence each time. 



Permissu Ordinarii Dioec, Dublinen., 
die /sJunii, anno 1931. 



106 



Pastoral Letter of 
His Grace the Archbishop of Dublin 



His Grace the Archbishop of Dublin issued the 
following letter on the Feast of All the Saints of 
Ireland, 1931, to.be read in the Churches of the 
Archdiocese on -Sunday, November 8: 

" The exaltation of the lowly and the glorifying of 
the humble were new and characteristic doctrines 
of the Religion whose Divine Founder was born -in 
a stable, and died, stripped of all reputation, on. the 
tree of shame. The understanding of the sublime 
truths which He came to teach was freely given to 
the simple and humble, but denied to the proud. 
For this Jesus Christ gave thanks, saying: ' I con- 
fess to Thee, Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, 
because Thou hast hid these things from the wise 
and prudent and hast revealed them to little ones.' 
(Matt, xi., 25.) 

" The Faithful are aware that a popular devotion 
has already grown up and spread far beyond the 
limits of our diocese and country, the- object of 
which is a working man, named Matthew, or 
familiarly Matt., Talbot, whose lonely death in a 
laneway of our city, on June 7, 1925, gave little 
indication of the fame which, in a very brief space 
of time, was to make his name and story known in 
almost every country in the world. 

107 



" This story of a man, until recently living in 
obscurity in our midst, whose spirit of prayer and 
penance seemed to belong to the ages of Faith, 
rather than to the materialistic world of to-day, 
filled many minds with wonder. 

" We were not surprised to learn that such a man 
lived in our midst. Every priest, whose mission 
has taken him amongst the poor of Dublin, will 
have come into contact with many lives of mar- 
vellous holiness. 

" Nobody, however, could fail to be impressed 
by the astonishing rapidity with which the story of 
the humble Dublin working man spread throughout 
the world, and the powerful appeal which it made 
to people varying very much racially and socially. 
It seemed that the hand of Providence must surely 
be here, and -that God had chosen one of our own 
beloved poor to show forth to the world the working 
of the ever abiding principle of holiness which is 
in the Catholic Church. Almost at once the hope 
was widely entertained that the ecclesiastical 
authorities would take the first steps which might, 
if it were God's Will, lead to: his eventual canonisa- 
tion. 

" This, however, was a question concerning 
which it was necessary to proceed with that great 
caution which the Church prescribes where the 
public veneration of Saints is involved. 

" It is, therefore, only after much reflection that 
it has been decided to open what is known as the 
Ordinary or Informative Enquiry into the reputa- 
tion for sanctity of the Servant of God, JVIatt. Talbot. 



108 



This Enquiry will also cover whatever miracles 
may be attributed to him. 

" We have been moved to institute this Process, 
not merely by our own personal admiration for his 
virtues and life, but also by the petitions of others, 
and by the evidence of widespread private devotion 
to him here and in foreign lands. It is a serious 
step and involves a recognition of his widespread 
fame. 

" It is, however, important that the Faithful 
should understand clearly what the present Enquiry 
means. In its Ordinary or Informative stage it 
means the collecting of evidence from those who 
knew the Servant of God, or who claim to have 
received special favours through his intercession; 
undue delay in this stage would, clearly, involve a 
risk thaf valuable information might be lost by the 
death of those in possession of it. 

" Its purpose is to supply the Holy See (which 
alone can give judgment in thes.e matters) with 
such information as will enable it to decide whether 
a prima facie case exists for the introduction of his 
Cause. Should this be found to exist, the Holy See 
will then prosecute enquiries into the case, and, for 
this purpose^, it usually appoints the same Bishop, 
who held the Informative Process, to act as its 
delegate in the holding of an Apostolic Process. ; 

" Even .at that stage there is no authoritative 
"decision of the Church as to the sanctity of the 
Servant of God. It is only when the further infor- 
mation collected in the Apostolic Process has been 
most critically examined in Rome and found satis- 



109 



factory that the Church proceeds to give its sanction 
to any cultus of him or to declare him Blessed. 

" The fame of the Servant t of God for sanctity 
must be confirmed by at least two miracles, recog- 
nised by the Church as of primary importance and 
fully proved, before this step is taken. 

"For the final act of Canonisation two further 
miracles, taking place after Beatification, are re- 
quired. 

" It is clear, therefore, that the present investiga- 
tion, important though it be, is but the first step 
on the long road which the Church requires to be 
travelled before Beatification or Canonisation is 
reached. She is most solicitous that the honours 
of her altars should be rendered only to those whose 
right to them has been proved .beyond all doubt. 
Any attempt to anticipate her judgment by Showing 
premature public liturgical honour would seriously 
impede the Cause. 

" Hence, whilst private devotion to Matt. Talbot 
is quite legitimate, based as it is on 'well-founded 
but merely personal belief as to his holiness, it 
would not be lawful to erect images of him in 
churches or to adorn them with the insignia of 
sanctity or to place votive tablets or lights on his 
grave, or, in a word, to do or say/ or write -anything 
about him which might anticipate the formal decree 
of the Church in his regard. 

"It is to be remembered that this inquiry is 1 
strictly impartial, and that it is the business of the 
Ecclesiastical Court to procure all possible evidence, 
whether favourable or unfavourable, to the Cause 



110 



of the Servant of God. We, therefore, urge all those 
who can give such evidence to communicate with 
us, either directly or in writing, or through their 
parochial clergy. 

" We earnestly exhort the Faithful to pray that 
the guidance of the Holy Spirit may direct our 
steps, and that God may be pleased to add the name 
of His humble servant, Matt. Talbot, to the glorious 
roll of Ireland's saints, whose common triumph is 
commemorated in to-day's Feast." 



Ill 



PRAYER 

FOR THE CANONIZATION 

OF 

Matthew Talbot 



O Jesus, true friend of the humble 
worker, Thou hast- given us in Thy 
servant, Matthew, a wonderful ex- 
ample of victory over vice, a model 
of penance and of love for Thy Holy 
Eucharist, grant, we beseech Thee, 
that we Thy servants may overcome 
all our wicked passions and sanctify 
our lives with penance and loye like 
his. 

And if it be~in accordance with 
Thy adorable designs that Thy pious 
servant should be glorified by the 
Church, deign to manifest by Thy 
heavenly favours the power he en- 
joys in Thy sight, Who livest and 
reignest for ever and ever. Amen. 
(Copyright.} 

100 days' Indulgence each time. 

Permissu Ordinarii Dioec. Dublinen., 
die 15 Junii, anno 1931. 



An artistic prayer book leaflet contain- 
ing the above prayer has been published 
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and is obtainable from Veritas Company 
Limited at Is. per 100 (post free Is. 2d.) ; 
5s. per 500 (post free); 10s. per 1,000 
(post free). Trade terms on application. 



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